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Consumer law specialist disputes Volkswagen executive’s claims to Transport Select Committee

Managing Director for Volkswagen UK, Paul Willis, appeared in front of the Transport Select Committee on Monday 20 February

Volkswagen

22 February 2017

A lawyer representing Volkswagen customers affected by the emissions scandal has disputed claims by the company’s UK Managing Director that there is “no legal basis for compensation” for customers in Europe.
 
Paul Willis, Managing Director for Volkswagen UK, made the claim when he appeared in front of the Transport Select Committee on Monday 20 February. Mr Willis told the committee: “We did not fit defeat devices to our vehicles in Europe…We never sold cars on emissions levels. We have not misled anyone on anything.” 

Mr Willis claimed that consumers have suffered no loss because the value of the vehicles is not affected and the fix to make them meet regulations does not affect their performance. 
 
The Minister of State for Transport, John Hayes MP, has invited Leigh Day to a meeting on 22 February to discuss the VW emissions scandal.
 
Leigh Day are bringing claims for affected Volkswagen consumers for compensation under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPUT). Under CPUT, it is not necessary for consumers to prove that they have lost money as a result of Volkswagen’s conduct.
 
According to lawyer Chris Haan from the Consumer Law and Product Safety team at Leigh Day: 
 
“Our clients dispute that they have suffered no loss, and anyway it is not correct that they have to prove loss. From 1 October 2014, Parliament changed the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations so that consumers could claim compensation from traders for misleading actions that affected their decision to buy a product without having to prove loss. 
 
"Customers are entitled to claim a percentage discount on the purchase price depending on the seriousness of the misleading action, ranging from 25% if more than minor to 100% if very serious . The claims that we are pursuing on behalf of our clients are based these regulations.”
 
Despite Volkswagen agreeing a $15 billion settlement for customers in the US Mr Willis repeatedly told MPs at the Select Committee hearing that the company did nothing wrong in Europe and misled nobody.
 
Mr Willis was criticised by MPs at the hearing and the company was told that the Government had not ruled out taking legal action against them.
 
John Hayes MP said at the hearing: "I think Volkswagen acted extremely badly. I think it is extraordinary in their evidence earlier they seemed to be uncertain about whether they had behaved badly or not yet when this scandal first broke their tone was a very different one."
 
CPUT makes it unlawful for businesses to engage in various kinds of “prohibited practice”, which Leigh Day will argue includes Volkswagen’s use of a defeat device.
 
Those eligible for a CPUT claim includes only those owners who:
  • bought their vehicle for personal, not business, use.
  • paid anything to an approved Volkswagen dealer or Volkswagen Finance on or after the 1st October 2014.

It does not matter whether they bought the vehicle new or second hand.
 
Leigh Day has also been exploring all avenues for seeking redress for those who cannot make a CPUT claim such as via a court claim alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and claims under the ADR procedure set out with the New Car Code.
 
You can register your interest to join the claim by completing this form.

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