Australian motorists caught up in the global diesel emissions issue involving around 100,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda EA189 diesel vehicles will be able to access millions in compensation after the global automotive giant agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement of its Australian class action today with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.
After enduring a full Stage One trial last year and with the Stage Two trial due to begin later in September, Australia’s leading class action law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers today informed the Federal Court in Sydney that agreement had been reached with VW to resolve the matter before incurring further trial costs.
The agreement in principle will see a minimum of $87 million available to affected Australian motorists, with that number able to rise to as much as $127 million depending on the final size of the claimant group. In addition, the defendants will also pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs once they are determined by the Court.
The case, which has been on foot since 2015, is one of several international actions seeking to hold the company accountable for the allegations that its EA189 cars had been fitted with defeat devices designed to pass emissions testing in a laboratory.
The settlement agreement must be approved by the Court before any payments can be made to affected drivers. The settlement comes without admission of liability from the defendants and importantly will also resolve the overlapping class action that was being heard at the same time.
Principal Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, Julian Schimmel, said it was a significant victory for motorists who for years had been trying to pin down the carmaker to get some accountability in Australia.
“This is an important step in providing a measure of justice and redress to the thousands of Australian motorists who claim they were financially impacted by the diesel emissions issue,” Mr Schimmel said.
Lead plaintiffs Alister Dalton (VW), Steven Roe (Skoda) and Robyn Richardson (Audi) have endorsed the resolution as a prudent step and a hard-fought win for drivers.
“It’s pleasing there will finally be some closure and a resolution for thousands of Australians, and it’s important that it forces some recognition from VW that there was a serious issue they had to face up to and deal with here in Australia regarding their vehicles,” Mr Dalton said.
“A settlement of this size shows that the company is willing to accept responsibility for what they have put their Australian customers through. It demonstrates that they are serious about making proper amends,” Ms Richardson said.
“It has been a long and difficult case but for me and many other affected owners, there is a real sense of relief that VW has recognised that a proper resolution in Australia was required. It’s taken a long time but I think it’s the right conclusion,” Mr Roe said.