Legal Affairs / Sales

The Department for Legal Affairs and Sales advises member companies in legal matters relating to the auto industry, represents their interests in legislative activities at the German and European level, and supports them in the actual implementation of the legal requirements.

The VDIK member companies are acknowledging the growing importance of legal affairs in part by reversing the former trend of "outsourcing" their legal departments and employing in-house legal experts. As experience has shown, this has led to an increased demand for the coordinating function of the VDIK in the legal area. The VDIK meets this demand by offering individual consulting, discussions within the legal committee, as well as seminars and conferences on important and current legal topics.

The extensive discussions on the continued existence of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation and the future structure of the dealer and service contracts - i.e. a complicated combination of antitrust law and European as well as national civil law - is only one prime example of the tasks taken on by the Department.

The introduction of the fundamentally revised laws governing sales and defects in quality and the revision of the General Terms and Conditions for the Sale of New Vehicles, in which the VDIK was closely involved, have led to a host of new legal questions which are now increasingly being dealt with in court decisions and legal literature. An ongoing observation of the matter is vital in order to prevent member companies and their dealers from suffering losses resulting from adverse outcomes of litigation. For this purpose, the Department for Legal Affairs and Sales is actively involved in the multi-association working group comprising VDA, ZDK and VDIK.

The same is also true for the areas of transport, consumer protection, advertising and Internet law. These topics, which affect several distinct areas within the automotive companies, require that even those member company employees with no prior legal training receive ongoing guidance, and there has been a growing demand by VDIK members companies for such advisory services. The very positive response of our member companies at the annual workshop on liability for defects and warranty, for instance, is a clear indication of the strong interest in legal information on this topic.

The VDIK has accompanied the revisions of the Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz), the Consumer Credit Act (Verbraucherkreditgesetz), and the Passenger Car Energy Consumption Information Regulation (Pkw-EnVKV) and provided critical input in this process. As these revisions have a significant impact on motor vehicle marketing and advertising, they have been and still are the subject of extensive discussions with the member companies.

The practice of increasingly issuing warnings adopted by individual organizations - incl. environmental organizations - raises numerous legal and tactical questions that the legal/sales department is dealing with and and for which it is serving as an information platform.

A further element, and one that is not to be underestimated, is the legal work in the interest of the Association itself, whether by giving legal advice to other departments or representing the Association's legal interests vis-à-vis government agencies, insurance companies and other contracting parties, for instance the Federal Motor Vehicle Department.

The legal provisions governing automobile sales have grown in terms of both, quantity and complexity. This trend is expected to continue. Through mediation by the ZDK, the legal disputes involving automobile dealers are handled by only a few legal advisors. In accordance with the compliance rules, therefore a counterweight has been instituted at the VDIK, which supports our members through discussions in the legal committee and through our own electronic archive of all relevant court decisions and publications, as well as by coordinating scientific essays and reports on sales law from the manufacturers' perspective. In addition, the VDIK answers numerous individual inquiries by members concerning legal problems. We are therefore able to put the specialized knowledge on hand within our organization to good and cost-effective use.

In the areas of sales and dealer development, a central role is played by the exchange of opinions on legal matters between the respective departments of the individual member companies coordinated by the VDIK. This has been demonstrated once again by the discussion about the current dealer and service contracts and whether it is admissible to cancel entire dealer networks.

In light of the growing weight of the dealer associations, which for the most part are ultimately controlled by the ZDK, it is imperative to have a counterweight under the roof of the VDIK. Effective strategies vis-à-vis dealers, competitors and other market agents are discussed jointly in VDIK work sessions, taking into account any applicable antitrust provisions. By bundling legal affairs, sales and dealer development under the Legal Affairs and Sales Department and holding joint meetings, we are creating an efficient structure that pays tribute to the fact that legal matters are gaining ever growing importance in motor vehicle sales.