Frequently Asked Questions

Registration

About the Class Action

Legal Costs

Affected Vehicles

About Maurice Blackburn


Registration

 

How do I register?

  • First, go to the Register / Login page
  • Type in your email address, and click "Next".  Then, fill in the rest of the fields and click "Login"

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I don't have an email address - how do I register?

If you do not have an email address and would like to register for our class action, please call 1800 810 812 and our team will assist you. 

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Where do I find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

VIN - This is a 17 digit number which is unique to your vehicle.  It can usually be found under the bonnet near the engine, inside the passenger side of the vehicle near the dash or in your service manual.

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Where do I find the Model Year of my vehicle?

This is often shown on your purchase documents.  For example, "Volkswagen Golf MY16" is a model year 2016.

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Where do I find the Manufacture Year of my vehicle?

This can be found under the bonnet under the engine or inside the passenger side of the vehicle near the dash.

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What is the Year of Purchase?

This is the year you purchased your vehicle.

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Where do I find the compliance/identification plate?

The plate may be a small aluminium plate, or a sticker.  The plate will probably look similar to this:

The plate is usually located:

  1. on the driver’s side door jamb/pillar; or
  2. in the vehicle’s engine bay (located under the bonnet, front & centre); or
  3. fixed to the passenger side’s footwell (where the passenger rests their feet); or
  4. in the boot.

Your vehicle owners manual is likely to describe where the  plate is located.

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How do I register an additional vehicle?

If you have another vehicle which you had an interest in as at 3 October 2015, and would like to register for the class action, follow these steps:

  1. Log in using your email address and password
  2. Click ‘Register’ at the top right hand corner of the screen
  3. Check your address is up to date, and click ‘Continue’
  4. Click ‘Add Vehicle’ and enter your vehicle details.
  5. If you have added a new Make of vehicle (e.g. if you have previously registered a Volkswagen and you are now registering an Audi), you will need to respond to our Client Agreement in relation to that Make of vehicle. If you are registering the same Make of vehicle that you have previously registered, you do not need to respond to our Client Agreement again.

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About the Class Action

 

What is the class action about?

In November 2015, Maurice Blackburn commenced class actions against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda, in relation to 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel vehicles, in the Federal Court of Australia.  Thousands of people have now retained Maurice Blackburn as their lawyers to represent them in the class actions.

The Volkswagen class action alleges the manufacturers of certain Volkswagen diesel vehicles fitted software known as “defeat devices” to those vehicle’s emissions control systems. The defeat devices are designed to cause vehicles to emit materially lower levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) during emission testing procedures than would otherwise be emitted during normal use.

We allege that these defeat devices contravene a number of Australian laws and that motorists have suffered loss as a result of those contraventions. 

Maurice Blackburn is also investigating potential class actions against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche in relation to potentially affected 3.0 litre diesel vehicles, following further announcements from the Californian Air Resources Board (CARB) that these vehicles contain prohibited Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECDs) considered to be defeat devices and are therefore illegal.  Maurice Blackburn is now accepting instructions from motorists with an interest in potentially affected 3.0 litre diesel vehicles.

The class action does not include petrol vehicles.

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What is the diesel emissions scandal about?

On 3 September 2015, Volkswagen admitted to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that certain model year 2009 to 2015 Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles fitted with a four cylinder engine (2.0 litre “EA 189” engine) were designed and manufactured with defeat devices.

Following this, the EPA issued a Notice of Violation on 18 September 2015 to Volkswagen, stating that the defeat devices bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements of the vehicles' emission control system.

The class action alleges that:

  1. These defeat devices were designed to detect when a vehicle was being tested for compliance with emissions standards, and then to activate the vehicle’s emission control systems to temporarily lower the level of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emitted by the vehicle in order to pass emissions testing.
  1. Under nromal driving conditions, the defeat device de-activated parts of the vehicle’s emissions control system so as to reduce the effectiveness of the emission control system, with the result that the vehicle performed better but emitted higher levels of NOx, which were in excess of emissions standards.

On 22 September 2015, Volkswagen announced that approximately 11 million vehicles were affected by the defeat device worldwide.

On 3 October 2015, Volkswagen announced that there had been a temporary suspension of the sale of diesel vehicles fitted with 1.6 or 2.0 litre EA 189 engines in Australia due to the emissions issue.

On 2 November 2015, the EPA issued a second Notice of Violation in relation to Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche 3.0 litre diesel vehicles. The EPA alleges that the 3.0 litre diesel vehicles identified in the Notice of Violation contained software that caused the vehicles to emit materially lower levels of NOx during emission testing procedures than would otherwise be emitted during normal use.

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Can I benefit from the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda class actions?

The class action is being brought on behalf of people who had an interest in (for example purchased, leased, etc) certain diesel Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda vehicles manufactured between 2008 and 2015, which were fitted with a defeat device.

If you are unsure if your vehicle is affected, please check the list of vehicles below under the heading “Which vehicles are affected by the emissions scandal?”, or contact us.

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What happens if I sell my car now or in the future?

You will still be able to participate in the class action if you sell or have sold your vehicle, and have suffered loss (e.g. the price paid by a purchaser is lower than it would have otherwise been but for the emissions issue).  This is because we have defined the class of claimants to include anyone who had an interest in an affected vehicle as at 3 October 2015 (i.e, when Volkswagen confirmed Australia vehicles were affected).

However, you should keep any documentation relevant to the sale of your vehicle. Should you wish to obtain any advice from us regarding your individual circumstances please contact us.

If you have sold your vehicle or finalised a lease or finance arrangement on your vehicle since registering for the class action, please update these details with us by completing the Additional Claim Details.

 

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What happens to my claim if my vehicle is recalled or sought to be repaired?

Even if you submit your vehicle to a recall, you are still eligible to participate in the class action.

Although Volkswagen has announced a voluntary vehicle recall, there is still much uncertainty as to whether the proposed ‘fix’ will adversely impact the vehicle.  Aside from the Amarok, regulatory authorities have not formally approved any proposed ‘fix’ to the affected vehicles in Australia.

In addition, it is far from clear as to how any proposed ‘fix’ will recalibrate engines and other components or what impact this will have on fuel economy, performance and durability of various engine components. 

In the meantime we note that Volkswagen’s proposed recall programme is ‘voluntary’. Ultimately it is a matter for individuals as to whether they wish to participate in such a voluntary recall, particularly without further disclosure from Volkswagen as to why the recall is required, what the recall involves and more transparency as to what the impacts on performance, economy and engine durability will be.

Prior to entering into any agreement with the dealer or manufacturer, we recommend that you obtain legal advice as to your circumstances. Clients that retain Maurice Blackburn in our class actions will receive legal advice from us in relation to these issues.

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How do class actions work?

Where seven or more people have a claim that arises out of similar circumstances, a class action can be brought by one claimant on their own behalf and as a representative of others. The class action process saves time and cost and avoids the need for the courts to determine common issues of fact or law more than once.

Class actions are an important part of the legal system. They enable disputes and claims involving large numbers of people to be resolved via a single case. Maurice Blackburn has the largest class actions practice in Australia. Since 1998 we have obtained well over $1 billion in compensation for Australians through class actions we have conducted.

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How long will the class action take?

The length of time it takes to achieve a settlement with the defendant or progress to a trial in Court is different for every class action.  In our experience, across the many class actions that Maurice Blackburn has run, the typical class action takes an average of 3 years to resolve. 

Because class actions are a special type of case which affects the rights of many people, they are heavily supervised by the Federal Court at every step of the way.  We attend regular directions hearings at the Federal Court where the judge sets a timetable for what steps each party must take before the next hearing.  This ensures that this very large class action progresses as quickly as possible.

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How much compensation will I get?

It is too early to precisely predict your compensation, but we are seeking maximum damages available under the law (which may well amount to a full refund) plus special punitive damages on top for the knowing deception of customers.  We have also claimed an account of profits made by Volkswagen attributable to the affected vehicles. The final amount payable will be assessed by the Court.

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What about the settlement in the United States?

You may be aware that in July 2016, a settlement was approved in the United States between Volkswagen and affected consumers, which involves a ‘buy back’ scheme and a compensation payment to individual consumers.

Although the settlement reached in the United States is a great win for affected vehicle owners in the United States, unfortunately it does not have any effect on the separate class action in Australia.   However, it does, importantly, place pressure on Volkswagen to compensate affected Australian consumers for their losses.

To date, it has been Volkswagen’s position that different regulations apply in Australia, and accordingly, Volkswagen have continued to argue that they have not breached Australian laws. We strongly dispute this argument, and are continuing to fight for the rights of those affected by the emissions scandal in Australia in the Federal Court.

Registering your vehicle and claim as part of our class action proceedings costs you nothing and can be done now. We believe it is the best chance you have of recovering potentially thousands of dollars of losses and holding the company to account for its wrongdoing.

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What have Volkswagen done wrong?

We allege that the defeat devices contravene a number of Australian laws and that motorists have suffered loss as a result. The Statement of Claim filed in the Court alleges that:

  1. The affected vehicles failed to comply with the requirements of the Australian Design Rules;
  2. Because of their failure to comply with the Australian Design Rules, the affected vehicles failed to comply with the requirements for registration and therefore were not lawfully able to be registered or driven on public roads in Australia;
  3. Volkswagen engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive, or was likely to mislead or deceive;
  4. Volkswagen made false or misleading representations (and Group Members purchased or acquired interests in the affected vehicles because of those representations), in representing that the affected vehicles:
    1. complied with the applicable legal requirements for road vehicles in Australia;
    2. were of a particular standard and quality in that they were compliant with applicable legal requirements for road vehicles in Australia, when that was not the case;
    3. had certain performance characteristics, uses or benefits, in that they were able to be registered and used on public roads in Australia, when that was not the case;
    4. produced emissions at a level below the limits specified by the Australian Design Rules, and that the vehicles’ emissions technology would preserve emissions at that level in normal driving conditions, when that was not the case.
  5. Volkswagen have engaged in unconscionable conduct in deliberately concealing the defeat devices in the affected vehicles;
  6. The affected vehicles were not of merchantable quality and did not comply with the guarantee as to acceptable quality.

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Legal Costs

What does ‘No Win, No Charge’ mean?

The class action, including your individual claim, will be conducted on a no win, no charge basis. This means that Maurice Blackburn is only entitled to be paid our legal costs if the claim is successful and those costs are approved or ordered by the Court.   If the claim is not successful, you will not be required to pay legal costs.

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What legal costs will I incur?

Our Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement provides more detail on our legal costs, but essentially, our fees will be calculated on the basis of the amount of time worked on the case. Our legal costs are not calculated by reference to the value of your claim or the compensation you may recover. They are calculated solely on the basis of actual time spent, and actual expenses incurred, in pursuing the claim on behalf of all group members.

Although it is not possible to accurately estimate the legal costs at this stage, we confirm that in our past experience, our legal costs have amounted to an average of approximately 12% of the compensation recovered.

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What is an 'uplift fee'?

Because we are taking the risk of running the case on a no win, no charge basis, we are entitled to charge an uplift fee, if the claim is successful.

The uplift fee is calculated simply as 25% of our legal costs. It is not related to the amount of compensation which we may recover for you.

An uplift fee of 25% is commonplace for most law firms that conduct claims on a no win, no charge basis. The uplift fee reflects the fact that reimbursement of costs and disbursements can only ever occur if the claim is successful and compensation is achieved.

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Will I need to pay any legal costs along the way?

No. You will not be asked to make any payment towards costs from your own pocket, either during or after the class action.

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Who pays legal costs if the class action is successful?

Commonly class action settlements or favourable judgments require the defendant to pay the claimants’ legal costs in addition to any compensation agreed or awarded. Where this occurs legal costs are not deducted from any compensation but are paid in addition by the defendants.

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Who approves the legal costs?

As these class actions are being conducted in the Federal Court of Australia, a Federal Court Judge must review and approve any legal costs. The Federal Court will not approve any class action settlement (or legal costs) if the settlement and costs are not fair and reasonable. The oversight of the Federal Court in approving any settlement and costs provides all claimants with a high level of comfort and protection in this regard.

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What if the compensation is minimal?

In the unlikely event that the overall amount recovered does not cover legal costs incurred, Maurice Blackburn will forego the difference. This gives additional comfort that, by retaining Maurice Blackburn as your lawyers in these class actions, you will not be asked to pay any ‘out of pocket’ costs.

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Will I have to pay more if I accept Maurice Blackburn's Client Agreement?

Typically the costs of conducting a class action are apportioned across all group members, (regardless of whether they have retained a lawyer or not). This generally means that claimants are not disadvantaged (in terms of the amount they might receive as compensation), if they choose to retain lawyers.

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Do I have to accept the Client Agreement in order to be in the class action?

No. The class action is being conducted on an 'opt-out' basis, and therefore any person who acquired an interest in an affected vehicle as at 3 October 2015 will be a group member in the class action. Therefore you do not need to retain us as your lawyers to be a group member. However, only those people who retain us (by accepting the Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement) will have access to specialised services provided by our team of lawyers, including:

  • Individual legal representation that extends beyond the issues common to all group members;
  • The facilitation of the loss assessment process, based on your individual circumstances; and
  • Regular updates about the progress of the class actions. 


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What happens if I don't accept the Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement?

Although you will still be considered a group member in the class action, if you decide not to accept Maurice Blackburn's Client Agreement, you will not receive our updates about the progress of the class action.  We will also be unable to provide you with legal advice about your individual circumstances.  If you change your mind about accepting the Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement at any time, please contact us using the Messages tab above, by email at vw@mauriceblackburn.com.au or on 1800 810 812.

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What if the class action is unsuccessful?

If the claim is not ultimately successful Maurice Blackburn will not be paid any costs.  This is because the class action is being conducted on a no win, no charge basis. 

The Federal Court legislation also provides additional protection.  Group members participating in class actions cannot be ordered to pay the defendant's costs if the action is unsuccessful.

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What makes Maurice Blackburn different?

Maurice Blackburn have decided to run the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda class actions on a No Win, No Charge basis without a litigation funder. As Australia’s largest and most successful class action practice, Maurice Blackburn does not require external litigation funding to conduct the case on its own purse.  Put simply, a litigation funder is a finance company for legal action. Generally, litigation funders pay for the legal fees while the action is ongoing, and then take a commission of around 30% of the compensation in addition to requiring reimbursement of the legal fees.

Because Maurice Blackburn are NOT using a litigation funder, this means that our clients do not have to pay any commission to a litigation funder out of their compensation - only our legal fees and disbursements are reimbursed if there is a successful outcome in the action (and most, or all of those costs are usually paid by the defendant in a successful class action, on top of the compensation).

Register Now

 

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Affected Vehicles

 

Which vehicles are affected by the emissions scandal?

1.6 or 2.0 Litre vehicles

The following types of diesel vehicles which were fitted with a four cylinder “EA 189” 1.6L or 2.0L engine and contained a defeat device (manufactured between 2008 and 2015) are affected.

This list may change if further information comes to hand.

Volkswagen

  • Golf (including Golf Wagon)
  • Polo
  • Jetta
  • Passat CC
  • Volkswagen CC
  • Passat
  • Eos
  • Tiguan
  • Caddy
  • Amarok

Audi

  • A1
  • A3
  • A4
  • A5
  • A6
  • Q3
  • Q5
  • TT

Skoda

  • Octavia
  • Yeti
  • Superb 

3.0 Litre vehicles

Volkswagen

  • Touareg (2009-2016)

Audi

  • A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
  • A7 Quattro (2014-2016)
  • A8 (2014-2016)
  • A8L (2014-2016)
  • Q5 (2014-2016)
  • Q7 (2009-2016)

Porsche

  • Cayenne (2013-2016)

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What if my vehicle falls outside the date range?

The class action is being brought on behalf of motorists who had an interest in certain diesel Volkswagen, Audi or Skoda vehicles manufactured between 2008 and 2015, which were fitted with a defeat device.  If you have a vehicle that was manufactured before 2008 or after 2015, you are not eligible to participate in the class action.  If your eligibility for the class action changes in the future, there will be media releases to reflect this change.

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I have a petrol vehicle - am I eligible for the class action?

If you have a petrol vehicle, you are not eligible to participate in the class action.  The information we have to hand indicates that only diesel vehicles are affected. 

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I purchased my vehicle after 3 October 2015 – am I eligible for the class action?

The class actions are being brought on behalf of motorists who acquired an interest in an affected vehicle prior to 3 October 2015 (i.e, when Volkswagen confirmed Australia vehicles were affected), and still had an interest in the vehicle at that date.  If you purchased your vehicle after 3 October 2015, you are not eligible to participate in the class action.

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About Maurice Blackburn

   

Why should I choose Maurice Blackburn?

Maurice Blackburn has a hard earned and unparalleled record in conducting successful class actions in Australia. We have secured compensation for tens of thousands of claimants in a variety of cases relating to faulty products, natural disasters and corporate misconduct.

We conduct Australia’s biggest class actions and we are the only firm to have achieved class action settlements exceeding $100 million, which we have done eight times now. 

To read more about our current and past class actions, click here.

 

How can I find out more?

Call us on 1800 810 812 for further information or email your question to vw@mauriceblackburn.com.au.

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