First Australian class action launched against Volkswagen


Sydney (dpa) – The first Australian class action has been launched against Volkswagen and Audi, and lawyers predict up to 90,000 vehicle owners could join the lawsuit, which seeks compensation for emissions test-evading software being fitted to their vehicles, it was reported Tuesday.

Sydney lawyer Charles Bannister alleged VW had acted in breach of Australian consumer law by selling cars with software that evades emissions testing.

His firm Bannister Law has filed two lawsuits in the Federal Court arguing a breach of consumer law by the German carmaker.

Bannister told The Australian newspaper the size of any compensation would depend on whether customers were given a full refund on their purchase or compensated for loss of resale value due to the damage to the reputation of their vehicle.

“The loss of value of vehicle is due to its brand perception, uncertainty surrounding any fix of the engine, loss of power and a shorter engine life. Once the vehicle is tainted like this it is hard to shake that stigma,” Bannister told The Australian.

Bannister did not say how many owners have joined his firm’s class action, but it could be just the first of several law firms in Australia filing class actions against VW on behalf of vehicle owners.

Australia’s corporate watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), is considering legal action against VW for possible breaches of consumer law.

VW Australia has announced a voluntary recall of about 100,000 vehicles sold in Australia to remove the device. The so-called defeat device is designed to deliberately cheat emission controls in diesel vehicles.

VW Australia told the newspaper it would not comment on the legal action but said the “cars are technically safe and the necessary measures will be undertaken at no cost to them.”

The emissions scandal broadened Monday to include 3-litre engines in Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it had issued a second notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to VW.

The violations are in addition to the notice the EPA issued September 18 that accused VW of including emission-test evading software in certain 2-litre engines for model year 2009-15 vehicles.

Volkswagen denied the new allegations but said it would fully cooperate with the EPA.