Sunday 17 January 2021

Amsterdam court centre stage in Volkswagen compensation claim

Statue of justice.American law firm BLB&G has opted to make a damages claim against Volkswagen following the diesel software scandal via the Dutch courts.

The New York-based law group has won almost €30bn in damages in other cases and is now representing institutional investors who lost money when Volkswagen’s share price slumped 35% after the scandal broke.

BLB&G wants to reach an out of court settlement with Volkswagen via Dutch legislation which allows the resolution of disputes between shareholders and corporations to be applied inside and outside the Netherlands.

BLB&G has provided ‘seed money’ and is financing the newly-formed Volkswagen Investor Settlement Foundation which has been set up to represent institutional investors outside the US.

International law

Foundation spokesman Anatoli van der Krans told the Volkskrant that BLB&G’s involvement ‘fits in with the position of the Netherlands as a centre of international law’. The law firm is also lead counsel in a separate class action claim in the US.

The foundation says on its website the aim is to ‘open a dialogue with Volkswagen in a spirit of mutual respect to find a reasonable and fair solution’.

By asking the Amsterdam court of appeal to declare the settlement globally binding, investors will get compensation for their losses and Volkswagen will be able to ‘turn the page and focus on the future’, the website states.

Private investors

The foundation is only focusing on institutional investors such as pension funds. The Dutch shareholders’ lobby group VEB is taking action on behalf of private investors and has already begun its legal challenge.

Spokesman Paul Coenen told the Volkskrant he did not see the VEB as a competitor to the foundation. ‘We have experience in this sort of case and we have a membership,’ he said. ‘The others still have to show their worth.’

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