Car maker Volkswagen has settled multimillion-dollar Australian class actions over the global diesel emissions scandal, which affected about 100,000 vehicles locally and 11 million worldwide.
The owners of the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda vehicles will be able to access millions in compensation, according to Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Bannister Law.
Under the agreement, which must be approved by the Federal Court, a minimum of $87 million will be available to Australian motorists, which could rise to $127 million depending on the number of claimants.
The amount does not include legal costs, which will be paid on top of the amount paid to motorists.
However, Volkswagen makes no admission of liability under the agreement.
The actions followed revelations in 2015 that Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda had fitted their cars with software that could detect test conditions and cut its emissions accordingly to improve results.
Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Julian Schimmel said the settlement was a significant victory for motorists.
“It’s an important step in providing justice and redress to motorists who claim they were financially impacted by the diesel emissions issue,” he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
With about 100,000 cars in Australia affected by the issue, he said the participation rate for the settlement still wasn’t known.
“That’s why the amounts are variable so we’ll just need to wait and see how many people come forward,” he said.
“We have reached an in-principle settlement for our VW, Audi and Skoda Emissions Class Action. This is an important step in providing justice and redress to thousands of Australian motorists,” Julian Schimmel, Principal Lawyer.
— Maurice Blackburn (@WeFightForFair) September 16, 2019
VW lead plaintiff Alister Dalton said the settlement was a positive outcome even though Volkswagen did not accept guilt.
“The fact they have come to the table to actually reach a settlement is an achievement itself,” Mr Dalton said.
He said he became involved in the class action to “show that the car owner needs to be respected and you need to understand your customer”.
“Hopefully they’ve learnt something out of it. Whether I buy another Volkswagen or another car, who knows,” he said.
Audi lead plaintiff Robyn Richardson said she was relieved by the result after a “long and winding” road.
Volkswagen said the settlements were “a further step towards overcoming the diesel issue”.
“The settlement, on a no-admissions basis, concerns five class-action lawsuits covering all affected vehicles in Australia,” a Volkswagen statement said.
The car maker expects the proceedings will conclude in 2020.