"Dieselsenat": BGH announces verdict on credit clause at Mercedes

Have buyers of a Mercedes diesel waived all claims for damages when they took out their car loan? A clause from Mercedes-Benz Bank suggests this - but it could be invalid under certain circumstances.

"Dieselsenat": BGH announces verdict on credit clause at Mercedes

Have buyers of a Mercedes diesel waived all claims for damages when they took out their car loan? A clause from Mercedes-Benz Bank suggests this - but it could be invalid under certain circumstances. Today the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) announces its verdict.

The plaintiff had financed his car through the Mercedes-Benz Bank. The signed contract states that the borrower assigns current and future claims against Daimler to the bank as security - "for whatever legal reason".

The man later demanded compensation from the Mercedes-Benz Group, as Daimler is now known. He claims his car is equipped with various illegal defeat devices and emits more toxic exhaust fumes than permitted while driving.

Clause "regular" or inappropriate?

Because of the clause in the financing contract, the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court (OLG) was recently of the opinion that the man was no longer entitled to sue Mercedes-Benz for damages. But the Karlsruhe "Diesel Senate" might see it differently: During the hearing in mid-March, the presiding judge Eva Menges indicated that the clause could possibly be ineffective because it puts consumers at an unreasonable disadvantage.

According to the OLG, the clause "regularly" can be found in the bank's loan conditions. Mercedes-Benz did not want to comment on this. If the Federal Court of Justice overturns the judgment from Stuttgart, the next step would be for the Higher Regional Court to examine whether the conditions for possible liability are met.

New situation due to ECJ judgment

So far, diesel plaintiffs had rather bitten their teeth at Mercedes. Because unlike VW with the scandalous engine EA189, Mercedes and other car manufacturers could not be proven to have fraudulent intentions. According to the case law of the BGH, claims for damages are ruled out.

However, a recently announced ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could change that fundamentally. The Luxembourg judges set the hurdles for damages much lower. According to this, car buyers would have to be compensated even if the manufacturer had negligently used an inadmissible exhaust gas technology. The big question now is what the BGH makes of it for German jurisdiction. The "Diesel Senate" wants to deal with the issue in a hearing on May 8th. Then it should also be about a Mercedes diesel.

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