Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda Australian class actions

In November 2015, Maurice Blackburn launched three Federal Court class actions against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda following the global diesel emissions issue. The class actions settled after more than four years of litigation, with the Federal Court approving the settlement on 1 April 2020.

 

In Australia, the diesel emissions issue affects around 100,000 vehicles across 21 different models of Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda branded vehicles with 1.6 and 2.0 litre “EA189” diesel engines. The class actions alleged that the affected vehicles were fitted with illegal defeat devices that were designed to cheat emissions tests, and sought to recover compensation for affected motorists primarily on the basis of alleged breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act or Trade Practices Act.

In December 2019, the Federal Court of Australia ordered that a Settlement Notice was to be published and distributed to affected motorists. The Settlement Notice contained information about the proposed settlement and invited affected motorists to register their claims. 

On 1 April 2020, the Federal Court of Australia approved the settlement of the Australian class actions against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda over the diesel emissions issue. The settlement was approved on the basis of a Settlement Scheme developed by the solicitors for the applicants that sets out the process by which claims can be registered, assessed and paid, and the Deed of Release and Settlement that was agreed between the parties. The Court also appointed Maurice Blackburn as the Administrator of the settlement.

Key points in relation to the settlement are as follows:

  • Australian motorists have registered claims relating to approximately 43,000 affected vehicles
  • The Volkswagen Group will, without admission of liability, pay approximately AU$120 million to eligible Australian motorists plus legal costs and other payments
  • The estimated average settlement payment per vehicle is approximately AU$2,800, subject to the final assessment of all claims registered by Australian motorists
  • The amount that individual motorists will receive will vary depending on factors such as the type of the vehicle and its age, however the range of settlement payments per vehicle, calculated in accordance with the method developed by lawyers acting for the applicants, is estimated to be approximately AU$1,589 to AU$6,554

On 13 May 2020, the Federal Court delivered its written judgment in relation to the approval of the settlement. A copy of the judgment is available here.

The registration process to claim a settlement payment has now closed, although limited categories of claimants can continue to access the registration portal in order to supply additional information that has been requested or to complete an existing registration. Please visit the registration portal at www.vwsettlement.com.au for more information about the registration process. 

We note that we received the settlement sum from the Volkswagen Group in late February 2021 and commenced making settlement payments to eligible motorists as of the week commencing Tuesday 9 March. There has been a short delay in making settlement payments to eligible motorists because the Federal Court of Australia instructed us not to distribute the settlement sum while it resolved an issue involving the other law firm who also brought class actions against the Volkswagen Group, being Bannister Law. That issue has now been resolved.

Please note that settlement payments may take up to 7 days to be processed and reach your bank account. We will send you a Remittance Notice confirming that a settlement payment has been made to you once this has been completed.  

In accordance with your Notice of Settlement Payment and in order to ensure that a settlement payment can be made to you, we ask that you complete your payment details online as soon as possible and ensure that they remain up to date. You can check that your payment details are complete and up to date, as well as access a copy of your Notice of Settlement Payment, by logging-in using your existing email address and password at www.vwsettlement.com.au, and clicking on the “Payment Details” tab. In the interests of safeguarding the security of your bank account information, please do not send your payment details to us by email and please also note that you will not be able to provide us with your payment details by telephone.

Of course, should you have any questions about the settlement, please contact our team by email at vw@mauriceblackburn.com.au or by telephone on 1800 517 397.