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Volkswagen loses landmark German 'dieselgate' case

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Germany's highest civil court has ruled that Volkswagen must pay compensation to a motorist who had bought one of its diesel minivans fitted with emissions-cheating software.

The ruling sets a benchmark for about 60,000 other cases in Germany.

The plaintiff, Herbert Gilbert, will be partially reimbursed for his vehicle, with depreciation taken into account

VW said it would now offer affected motorists a one-off payment. The amount will depend on individual cases.

The company has already settled a separate €830m (£743m) class action suit involving 235,000 German car owners.

VW said in a statement on Monday: "For the majority of the 60,000 pending cases, this ruling provides clarity as to how the [Federal Court of Justice] assesses essential questions in German diesel proceedings.

"Volkswagen is now seeking to bring these proceedings to a prompt conclusion in agreement with the plaintiffs. We will therefore approach the plaintiffs with the adequate settlement proposals."

VW has paid out more than €30bn in fines, compensation and buyback schemes worldwide since the scandal first broke in 2015.

The company disclosed at the time that it had used illegal software to manipulate the results of diesel emissions tests.

It said that about 11 million cars were fitted with the "defeat device", which alerted diesel engines when they were being tested. The engine would then change its performance in order to improve the result of the test.

Volkswagen has faced a flurry of legal action worldwide, including the UK.

About 90,000 motorists in England and Wales have brought action against VW as well as Audi, Seat and Skoda, which are also owned by Volkswagen Group.

Last month, their case cleared its first hurdle in the High Court, when a judge ruled that the software installed in the cars was indeed a "defeat device" under EU rules.

The carmaker's current and former senior employees are facing criminal charges in Germany.

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