In the diesel scandal, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) sentenced the car manufacturer Audi to pay compensation for the first time.

In four cases, the Volkswagen subsidiary now has to compensate car buyers for the fact that a manipulated VW engine was installed in their vehicles.

The BGH thus confirmed a corresponding judgment by the Higher Regional Court in Munich on Thursday and rejected the appeal requested by Audi.

The presiding judge RĂ¼diger Pamp said in the verdict: "The Munich Higher Regional Court found in an unobjectionable manner that Audi used the engines with knowledge and awareness of their inadmissibility."

Effects on ongoing proceedings

In 2020, the Munich Higher Regional Court judges came to the conclusion that at least one person in charge at Audi knew that the engines purchased from the parent company contained an impermissible cut-off device and thus manipulated the exhaust emissions.

Audi was thus involved itself and is liable.

The BGH considered this argument to be viable.

So far, the BGH had referred all lawsuits against the VW subsidiary back to the lower courts because it did not consider it to be sufficient evidence that leading Audi managers knew about the manipulation at VW.

The decision of the highest civil court is likely to affect ongoing proceedings against Audi.

The current proceedings involved various Audi models, some of them used cars, that four buyers had acquired for between EUR 12,000 and EUR 30,000.

The VW EA 189 engine was installed in all of them.

When it became known that the engines had been deliberately tampered with and that the emission levels in road traffic were exceeded, a software update was developed that was also installed on the Audi vehicles.

Most buyers sued VW themselves for damages, but some also sued Audi.

However, the subsidiary denies having known anything about the manipulation when it decided to buy and install the VW diesel engine.

However, the BGH did not follow some of the reasons that the Munich Higher Regional Court had also used for its judgment.

In its ruling, the BGH denied that Audi was at fault for the organization because the company completely transferred the type approval of the engine to the parent company VW.

According to the BGH, these and other incorrect explanations did not change the fact that Audi's liability was rightly affirmed in the result.