Tuesday, 10 November 2015

VW scandal spurs development of collective claims in Germany

A number of group actions against VW have been instituted in many countries over the past weeks and months. In Germany, however, according to current law a consumer has to sue individually. Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, has been seeking to change the German legal landscape in this regard. In the context of the VW scandal he re-emphasized that legislative changes in Germany will be put on the table. A draft bill can be expected for the beginning of 2016. Rather than similar to US American collective actions, the German action will be designed in the form of a model case proceeding (Musterfeststellungsklage). This way identical or similar law suits can be bundled in a streamlined process. Once the questions at stake have been decided upon in a model order (Musterentscheid), the order binds the other courts before which individual cases were stayed. The findings of test case proceedings thus have a binding effect on the other claims, but the individual cases are kept separate.

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