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Swiss driver wins first Dieselgate compensation case

VW car and factory.
VW was caught using illegal software to cheat pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel and numerous court cases around the world that have so far cost the German company billions of euros. Keystone / A3929/_julian Stratenschulte

Six years after the Dieselgate Volkswagen controversy came to light, a Geneva court has ordered a car importer to compensate the owner of a VW diesel car – a Swiss first.

A Geneva court ordered Switzerland’s biggest car dealer AMAG to reimburse the owner of a 2013 VW Touran TDI CHF17,000 ($18,000) after cancelling the sales contract for the vehicle, it was reported on Tuesday.

AMAG told Swiss public television RTS that the decision is not “definitive”. It says it will appeal as the case concerns a “specific vehicle belonging to a single complainant”.

VW was caught using illegal software to cheat pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel and numerous court cases around the world that have so far cost the German company billions of euros.

The Geneva court ruling of October 21 states that independent tests showed that the Touran was unsuitable for driving as its exhaust fumes exceeded anti-pollution norms. The client should be reimbursed for the sales price of the vehicle minus an amount for the number of kilometres it had been driven, it said.

The man’s lawyer hopes this case will open the doors for similar claims in Switzerland.

Unlike affected VW owners in Germany, the United States or Canada, drivers in Switzerland have so far received no financial compensation. Courts have previously dismissed claims for damages by consumer groups or individuals.

Ten days ago, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said it wanted to close the criminal case opened against VW and the importer. It said it lacked sufficient elements to justify “pronouncing a sentence order or a committal for trial”.

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