Fireworks in ACCC / Volkswagen Federal Court showdown

23 September 2016
Lawyers for Volkswagen’s German Head Office have been directed out of the Federal Court today to reconsider their position, after Justice Lindsay Foster described Volkswagen’s conduct as “unacceptable” and “incredibly annoying”, in the case brought by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.

Facing the first case management hearing of the Federal Court action launched by the national regulator, the ACCC, over the Australian impacts of its global emissions scandal, VW AG refused to recognise the Australian Federal Court’s jurisdiction, astonishingly, asserting it did not have to participate in the Court proceedings.

This follows a similar stunt the company has used to obfuscate and delay various proceedings overseas, most recently in Ireland, and mirrors the tactics the company is using to avoid compensating around 100,000 motorists represented by Maurice Blackburn’s class actions Principal, Jason Geisker.

“Volkswagen AG continues to disregard Australian motorists and our legal system, as Justice Foster previously described in our class action – it is treating Australia as a backwater,” Mr Geisker said.

“The arrogance of the global behemoth in acting as though it sets the legal rules and systems in this country – or any country for that matter – is astonishing.

“This behaviour is symptomatic of a much bigger problem within Volkswagen globally. VW simply fails to recognise it has gone too far. Instead of apologising and making amends, VW is fighting its duped customers and regulators and is refusing to compensate Australian motorists in any way.

“What this boils down to is that VW profited by deceiving Australian motorists – and millions more around the world – by deliberately installing cheat devices in its diesel vehicles to mislead regulators and the public as to the vehicles’ emissions credentials.

“VW’s conduct was no accident, it chose to cheat, and even when caught red-handed the company refuses to take adequate and transparent steps to rectify their wrongdoing and cooperate with regulators, such as the ACCC.  The scale of the cheating is unprecedented but it is VW’s poor conduct towards those affected since being exposed that simply beggars belief.”

Like Maurice Blackburn’s class action, the ACCC case against VW is that it engaged in extraordinary conduct of a serious and deliberate nature, by misleading consumers and the Australian public. The ACCC case seeks declarations, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and legal costs.

“Fortunately for affected Australian motorists, Australia has one of the most efficient and effective class actions regimes in the world. This puts Australian motorists at the forefront of securing fair compensation and a proper resolution of their legitimate claims over the company’s mass deception.”