The first stage of the Australian class action starts on Monday, March 5, in the Federal Court in Sydney.
Backed by class-action lawyers Maurice Blackburn and buoyed by the $290 million settlement made to Canadian Volkswagen owners in January – the second payment by Volkswagen resulting in a total bill of $A2.4 billion – the Australian contingent is seeking compensation over the Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will make its case at the same hearing as Maurice Blackburn, which first launched action against Volkswagen in November 2015 and is representing about 100,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda owners.
The legal firm has 20,000 signed-up Volkswagen Group owners and has brought the action on behalf of all the 100,000 affected Australian owners and lessees.
Volkswagen AG and Audi AG in January made a second settlement to Canadian owners of vehicles affected by the emissions scandal.
The Canadian offer of more than $A290 million aimed to resolve class action by 20,000 owners of 3.0-litre turbo-diesel Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles.
The offer includes buybacks, repairs and restitution payments and comes on top of a $A2.9 million fine paid by Volkswagen and a $A2.1 billion payment (and $A15 million fine) paid in respect to 105,000 Canadian owners of affected 2.0-litre diesel vehicles.
Volkswagen Group Australia has consistently maintained that it has done no wrong in Australia and that overseas settlements are based on differing circumstances.
By Neil Dowling