Securities Litigation in Germany: Volkswagen and The Fall-out of Dieselgate

von Peter Bert

On the blog, we have tracked the jurisdictional journey of securities litigation brought against Porsche in relation to its failed attempt to take over Volkswagen (see here and here, for example). Now, Volkswagen itself is at the centre of the most recent wave of big-time securities litigation. Investors are suing VW for failure to inform markets on time about the diesel emissions scandal, also known as Dieselgate. Jurisdictionally, things are pretty straightforward this time. The competent court, the Braunschweig District Court (Landgericht) issued a press release earlier this week on the current scope of the litigation.

Claims Filed Sofar

On September 19, 2016 alone, approximately 750 damages claims were filed against Volkswagen AG. Two actions in the combined value of about EUR 2 billion were brought by institutional investors. the other actions stem primarily from private and retail investors.

This is in addition to claims that bundle claims brought by institutional claimants, such as an action by 60 investors in the amount of EUR 30 million, an action by 160 investors for a total of EUR 1.5 billion and one on behalf of 565 investors for EUR 550 million. The court’s press release names three plaintiffs, namely three pension funds of German Federal states. The Bavarian state pension funds seeks damages in the mount of EUR 700,000, Baden-Württemberg is claiming EUR 1.1 and Hessen sues VW for EUR 4 million. All in all, some 1,400 actions have been brought against Volkswagen AG in the Braunschweig District Court (Landgericht), with a total value of EUR 8.2 billion. To put this into perspective: 1,400 cases are the equivalent of 50% of the Braunschweig court’s normal annual case load in civil matters.

Limitation Period

There was a rush to have claims filed, as a matter of precaution, prior to September 19, 2016, namely one year after the news broke on the Diesel scandal ...

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