German court to speed up VW investor lawsuits

Mon Aug 8, 2016 11:39am EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters) - A German court will adopt a rarely used class-action style procedure to more efficiently process claims by investors seeking damages from Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) over a diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to a ruling.

The regional court in Braunschweig near Volkswagen's (VW) Wolfsburg headquarters said on Monday it will pick one case to act as a model to help resolve as many as 170 other damages claims, the closest thing Germany has to class-action lawsuits common in the United States.

Private and institutional investors are suing VW alleging managers at the carmaker failed to disclose its involvement in a diesel emissions cheating scandal in a timely manner, a claim VW rejects.

"VW continues to take the view that it has duly complied with disclosure rules related to securities law," a VW spokesman said on Monday, adding the court's decision to allow for a model proceeding is a "normal procedural step" that is also backed by VW.

Most of the 170 cases have been filed by private investors with the largest case by lawyer Andreas Tilp filed on behalf of 277 institutional investors and worth 3.26 billion euros ($3.60 billion).

Tilp has represented investors in many German cases over capital market-disclosure issues.

The Braunschweig court said the representative plaintiff will be named at the earliest in the fourth quarter and the model proceedings will help speed up resolution of the cases.

Germany's legal system does not allow for U.S.-style class action suits for resolving the consumer claims of Volkswagen owners.

The purpose of model proceedings is to resolve generic or common issues for other related cases, but unlike in a U.S. class action, the model proceeding does not have the legal effect of also resolving all of the individual claims.   Continued...

A Volkswagen production site is seen in Wolfsburg, Germany, April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo