Volkswagen’s appeal on diesel emissions fine dismissed by High Court

On Friday, the Full Federal Court dismissed an appeal made by Volkswagen AG against the $125 million penalty handed down to them in December 2019.

The penalty, in response to Volkswagens breach of Australian diesel emissions law was upheld, the Full Court concluding that the penalty ‘was not excessive, let alone manifestly excessive.’

What was the largest ever sanction handed out for a breach of Australian Consumer Law, was in response to Volkswagen’s misrepresentations about its compliance with Australian diesel emissions standards, in regards to more than 57,000 diesel vehicles imported between 2011 and 2015.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair, Rod Sims said: “$125 million is the highest penalty ever handed down for breaches of Australian Consumer Law. It’s about five times the previous highest penalty, and that reflected just how egregious Volkswagen’s conduct was.”

While the ACCC was willing to settle the proceedings against Volkswagen at $75 million, the court decided to uphold the full amount, Sims saying that the ACCC considered, “the proposed penalty of $75 million was significant and appropriate in the circumstances which included Volkswagen’s admission of liability. However this is ultimately a decision for the Court to make”.

Earlier this month, the German carmaker announced it was changing its name to ‘Voltswagen’, in a poorly received April Fools PR stunt, poking fun at their own electric car credentials.

Commenting on how this will impact future sanctions, Sims said: “This record penalty increases to signal to large corporations that they could face massive penalties for misleading consumers about their products.”


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