Legal lifeline lowers costs in VW consumer class action

19 November 2015
Motorists that have been duped in the global Volkswagen emissions scandal will now be given a legal lifeline, offering them access to the Australia’s leading class actions experts, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, to help them hold VW to account for the international emissions rort.

Australia’s largest and most successful class action law firm, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, has today launched Federal Court proceedings to run the Australian consumer class action on behalf of more than 90,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda high-emission diesel vehicles that were fitted with emissions defeat devices before being sold to unsuspecting Australian motorists.

Jason Geisker, the Maurice Blackburn Principal running the case, said Australian consumers now had a clear benefit in partnering with a firm responsible for all of the nation’s largest class action recoveries, with the added benefit of not having to pay any part of their entitlements to a third-party litigation funder.

“Well over 10,000 people have already registered with us for this class action, and it’s been really clear to our expert legal team in dealing with affected motorists that efficiently bringing VW to account, without giving up on any of their entitlements, is of significant concern,” Mr Geisker said.

“We’ve responded to what people have told us they want by taking the bold step of running this case on our own purse, without a funder, on a no-win no-charge basis for our clients. This gives them the best chance of receiving the greatest possible recovery.

“We’ve taken the time to prepare the claims comprehensively to also include affected Skoda and Audi diesel vehicles affected by this rort. Importantly our claims will be made against the international parent companies involved in the scam and not just local subsidiaries.

“All of this significantly increases the likelihood of a stronger and more comprehensive recovery for those we represent in these important class actions.

“There is a lot of anger out there from motorists who feel betrayed. It’s only because we have a fully-functioning and effective class actions regime in Australia that these thousands of people can pursue some accountability and justice by banding together. It would be commercially impossible to bring these claims individually against such a large well-resourced organisation.”

Leading the actions on behalf of group members in the class actions will be VW owner Alister Dalton, Skoda owner Steven Roe and Audi owner Robyn Richardson from Richardson Law.

Lawyer Robyn Richardson said she was keen to join the Maurice Blackburn action to have the best chance of holding the company accountable for what she feels has been an egregious breach of her trust and that of other diesel vehicle owners.

“You trust that the information you’re acting on when you make one of life’s biggest purchases such as this, is accurate and honest, so I’m extremely disappointed that because of the company’s deceitful conduct I’ve now got a car that is emitting dirty diesel,” Ms Richardson said.

“I want to hold them to account for what they’ve done, and in turn deter other companies from behaving similarly.”

Alister Dalton, who leads the Volkswagen part of the claim, purchased two Volkswagen diesel vehicles, one for himself and one for his wife.

“I’ve been a Volkswagen supporter since my early 20’s when my first vehicle purchase was a VW beetle. I bought my current cars based on reliability and reputation, but I’ve been lied to and I’m now concerned about the future price impacts that will have on me,” Mr Dalton said.

Steven Roe who leads the action for Skoda owners said he was very concerned about the devaluation of his vehicle given it now lacked the green credentials it was supposed to have.

“Who’d want to purchase a potentially illegal vehicle that doesn’t comply with emissions regulations? I’ve essentially now got a lemon worth next to nothing and a balloon payment on my car that could make refinancing costly and difficult,” Mr Roe said.

Mr Geisker said it beggared belief that VW orchestrated and presided over this global deception of consumers for more than six years before being caught out. He added that it was further insult to injury that no satisfactory offer had been put to customers to date. Their best option to recover adequate compensation for the company’s actions is through instituting this class action.

“It’s not good enough for VW just to say they are sorry and they’ll try to fix the problem at some point in the future. These cars are now tainted forevermore. People need action now,” he said.

That’s what thousands of Australians are telling us, and that’s why we’ve filed this Federal Court action to ensure those people have the best chance possible of holding the company accountable,” he said.

“Maurice Blackburn’s action means people now have the option to avoid paying a litigation funder any cut of compensation they receive.  Importantly it also ensures they have the nation’s leading class actions experts in their corner against this multi-national giant in VW.”

In simple terms, once the Court has approved the fair amount for legal fees, those participating in the Maurice Blackburn claim will not have to pay 25-30 per cent of their compensation to a litigation funder, unlike clients in the alternative case. On an individual recovery of $10,000 net of costs, this means Maurice Blackburn’s clients would not have to give away between $2,500 - $3,000 of that amount to a litigation funder - they would retain the entire $10,000.

Mr Geisker said added advantages for affected motorists include that the Maurice Blackburn claim joins the German parent companies and raises a number of additional legal claims not raised in the alternative actions.

People and businesses that have been caught up in the VW emissions scandal can continue to register for the Maurice Blackburn class action via a simple registration website, by visiting www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/volkswagen

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