In September 2018, the Austrian Association for Consumer Information (VKI), on behalf of 574 owners of manipulated vehicles, brought an action against Volkswagen (Case C-343/19) before the Regional Court Klagenfurt (Austria). The buyers had acquired these vehicles in Austria from commercial car dealers or private sellers before the manipulations became public knowledge. The VKI demands that Volkswagen reimburses the damage incurred (in particular the difference between the price of a manipulated vehicle and the price actually paid) and a declaration stating that Volkswagen is liable for future damage which cannot yet be quantified (e.g. reduction in market value or driving bans on the vehicles concerned). The Austrian court wanted to know whether it was competent to hear the case. It was uncertain whether it had international jurisdiction to hear the case, so it referred a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice to obtain clarification from the Court of Justice on its case-law on the Regulation on jurisdiction. On 2 April, the ECJ published the Opinion in which Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona states that, under the general rule on international jurisdiction, plaintiffs must bring proceedings before the courts of the Member State in which the defendant is domiciled (i.e. the courts of the defendant's State of domicile). "There are, however, alternative jurisdictions. Thus, in matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict, the Regulation offers applicants the possibility of suing in the courts of the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur."
The court will normally give its decision within two to four months of such submissions. The judges follow them in most cases but are not obliged to do so.
Related link: - Opinion of the Advocate General in Case C-343/19.