Legal action over Austrian road blockades fails

Court rules that there is no evidence that hauliers had been financially damaged

An court in Innsbruck, Austria, has rejected a demand for financial compensation by a German haulage after Austrian NGOs blocked the Brenner pass - a main transalpine highway between Germany and Italy - for 27 hours in July 1998. The court ruled that there was no evidence that the blockade had caused financial damage to the firm. However, court proceedings over the blockade are expected to continue, with the German firm involved in this week's case expected to appeal, plus two other German haulage firms expected to start new legal actions. Austrian environmental groups such as Transitforum have welcomed the judgement this week, stressing that the blockade had been well publicised in advance and that national railways had increased their capacity to transport freight, so that commercial movements had not been prevented. However, a lawyer for the firm that lost this week pledged to keep on fighting for compensation. "The principal question remains unanswered," said Robert Schneider. "Austria has to keep this kind of road free under any circumstance."

Follow Up:
Transitforum, tel: +43 512 579 560; Robert Schneider, tel: +43 5572 22171.

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