The first Australian law firm to file class action lawsuits against Volkswagen and Audi, in response to the diesel emissions scandal currently rocking the Volkswagen Group, has indicated that owners of affected vehicles may be entitled to a full refund under Australian consumer law.
Compensation specialists, Bannister Law, filed the class actions late last week against both companies: one against Volkswagen Australia and one against Audi Australia. The two companies, while each part of the Volkswagen Group, operate as separate entities in Australia.
Bannister Law will seek to prove that diesel-powered vehicles, fitted with the emissions 'defeat device', do not comply with Australian consumer laws.
“A part of the claim in each class action is that both VW and Audi guaranteed, under the consumer laws, that the vehicles were fit for their purpose, and free from defects,” Charles Bannister, founder and principal of Bannister Law, said.
“In supplying cars containing the defeat device, the statutory guarantee was not complied with. If we’re successful on that part of the claim, the customer may be entitled to a refund of the purchase price.”
Bannister Law’s class action includes 90,000 potentially affected cars from Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi.
Mr Bannister cited the drop in vehicle resale as a matter also needing redress.
“This (alleged misleading and deceptive conduct) strikes at the very heart of the brand and undermines its value. We’re already seeing hard evidence on the impact on vehicle resale throughout the market," Mr Bannister said.
“Whether consumers have new or second hand cars, if theirs is an affected model that loss of value is currently borne by them,”
Estimates place the compensation value at a lofty AU$5billion if Bannister Law is successful in getting a full refund for all affected owners.
Other plaintiff lawyers are also circling: Maurice Blackburn lawyers in early October also signalled its intent to launch a class action suit against Volkswagen.