German minister: Collective lawsuits to bolster position of diesel car owners

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a newspaper interview that the possibility for class-action lawsuits envisaged in a coalition blueprint would give diesel car owners a stronger position versus carmakers.

In their draft coalition deal, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) said they wanted to start allowing collective lawsuits. Consumer associations and politicians had called for these to be made possible during the Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE diesel emissions scandal.

“That basically gives many diesel car owners the possibility to better advance their interests in future along with consumer protection groups,” Maas told the Funke group of newspapers a day after a court ruled that cities could implement diesel bans.

The conservatives and SPD want to form a coalition but the SPD’s members still have the chance to veto that. The results of the SPD postal ballot are due to be announced on Sunday.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Paul Carrel