An Austrian court has just ordered a VW dealer to fully refund to a customer the vehicle purchased from him.
Reasons given: the software falsifying the data, implemented on the vehicle – a Golf in this case – would have provided erroneous information likely to deceive the client. The final incentive to acquire a car endowed with commendable qualities when that was not the case.
Deception on merchandise. In French law of contracts, this is called fraud: a maneuver of a co-contractor in order to deceive his partner and cause him to make a mistake. Now, fraud is, with error and violence, one of the three vices of consent. It is sanctioned by the nullity of the contract. Spread the word ….
The Vienna Commercial Court therefore held that “if the plaintiff had known that software to handle the emissions during testing had been installed in the vehicle concerned, she would not have bought it”. The court therefore goes even further, putting itself in the customer’s shoes and stating that the client would not have acquired the vehicle if she had known that he was being abused. Do not put forward a priori the fact that the data stated were likely to mislead potential buyers. As a result of this manipulation, “the plaintiff has lost confidence in Volkswagen,” says the court.
According to the judgment rendered at first instance, the dealer must take back the vehicle, acquired 26,500 euros in 2012, while paying the end to the customer a price higher than the purchase price, or 29,000 euros.
According to the complainant’s law firm, this is the “most favorable decision to date for a car buyer”. This compensation is even one of the most generous since the dieselgate case broke out in September 2015. The court has indeed calculated the discount of the car not according to its age, but the number of kilometers traveled . The distance being relatively small (25,000 km), the discount was lower than the interest related to inflation.
According to the Austrian press, the court also estimated that a car could travel 250,000 kilometers during its lifetime. With only 25,000 kilometers on the clock, or 10% of the potential number of kilometers , the court has deducted the level of compensation to be collected below the price of the global buyout.
Still, dealers may have trouble swallowing a pill as bitter, and eventually risk to turn against the manufacturer. But long before that, the decision could especially pave the way for other favorable judgments for homeowners facing the same kind of situation.
The Austrian site OE24 reports that the complainant had already gone to court in 2015, with a view to canceling her purchase contract, and reimbursement of the sale price.
As a reminder, 11 million cars, including 394,000 in Austria, were directly affected by the scandal of the dieselgate, being equipped with software falsifying data related to polluting emissions.
If in the United States, the choice has been given to owners to take back their vehicle against reimbursement, or to bring it up to standard, such a possibility is not offered on the Old Continent.