Ministry of Transport wants to review decision on passenger car tolls

Image by Tom WiedenThe Federal Ministry of Transport wants to consider an arbitration decision in the dispute over the failed passenger car toll. A "partial arbitration award" has been issued, a spokesman for the ministry confirmed in Berlin on Saturday in response to an inquiry.

"What is being dealt with are certain aspects of the grounds for the claim, but not the amount of the claim. The court also referred to possible claims for damages by the federal government." The proceedings are confidential, he said, and a decision must now be made on how to proceed.

On the previous evening, the actually intended operating companies CTS Eventim and Kapsch TrafficCom had announced that the arbitration court had found a claim for damages and reimbursement of expenses against the Federal Republic. The amount of the claim will now be decided in the second phase of the arbitration proceedings.

The passenger car toll - a CSU prestige project - had been halted by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in June 2019 as illegal. The intended operators are claiming 560 million euros in damages after the federal government cancelled the contracts following the ruling. The federal government and the responsible transport minister at the time, Andreas Scheuer (CSU), had rejected the claims, and the arbitration proceedings followed. In the meantime, the transport ministry is led by Volker Wissing (FDP).

The arbitration court had confirmed that the claims filed by their joint venture Autoticket, which was founded for the toll, "exist on the merits," Kapsch and CTS Eventim announced. This is the result of the interim arbitral award, which was communicated to the operating parties on Friday.

Accordingly, the Federal Ministry of Transport was not allowed to withdraw from the contract "unilaterally and without compensation". The arbitration ruling also rejected the alleged reason for termination, namely "poor performance".

Scheuer had repeatedly emphasized that the operators were not entitled to compensation. They had failed to perform under the contract and, even after termination, had breached the contracts intentionally and in breach of trust. These had therefore been terminated for several valid reasons. In this case, the contractual situation was "in favor of the federal government."

The operating companies, on the other hand, had argued that in the present case of contract termination, their subsidiary Autoticket was entitled to lost profits over the term of the contract - twelve years were envisaged. Furthermore, the operating agreement provided for compensation for "termination costs", which also included claims for damages from subcontractors.

Scheuer's actions were the subject of an investigation by a Bundestag committee during the last legislative period. The opposition at the time accused him of violations of budgetary and procurement law and warned of millions in costs for taxpayers due to the termination of the contract. Scheuer had always denied the accusations.

The committee also took aim at the fact that Scheuer had already concluded the operator contracts at the end of 2018, even before there was final legal certainty at the ECJ. The final report of the U-committee, submitted in 2021, stated that the risk of a complete failure of the passenger car toll before the ECJ "should have been given greater importance in the risk assessment". At the same time, it was stated that "no case of a lie, deliberate concealment or manipulation" by the ministry or the minister could be credibly proven.



Image by Tom Wieden

 


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