Sunday 23 October 2016

Case goes on after 'bizarre walk-out' by VW lawyers

Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30

Evan O’Dwyer, counsel for Eithne Higgins, outside court. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Evan O’Dwyer, counsel for Eithne Higgins, outside court. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus

A District court judge said the actions of Volkswagen's legal team who walked out of court this week was "probably one of the most unusual things" she has seen in court.

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Junior counsel Paul Fogarty and two solicitors from A&L Goodbody walked out of Castlebar District Court on Tuesday during a discovery hearing into a case regarding emissions, stating the court did not have jurisdiction and were it to proceed they would seek a judicial review.

Yesterday, Judge Mary Devins said the case would continue and agreed to consider an application for further discovery in relation to the car manufacturer after counsel for the complainant said the information provided was "inadequate".

Judge Devins said she accepted the car manufacturers had not complied with a court order for discovery.


She said she was trying very hard to leave aside the "bizarrely stunt-like nature" of legal counsel representing a global company. She added if Volkswagen instructs its legal team to go to the High Court, she would await that with interest.

Read more: 'I'm simply going to to try and leave that aside' - Judge's reaction to 'unusual' Volkswagen case proceedings

The case is being taken by Roscommon nurse Eithne Higgins, of Croghan in Boyle, against Volkswagen Group Ireland and Volkswagen AG, and is seeking compensation after Volkswagen admitted cheating on emissions tests last year.

Evan O'Dwyer, counsel for Ms Higgins, said evidence given yesterday by three expert witnesses showed the data provided to date by Volkswagen had been inadequate.

Mr O'Dwyer requested a further order be made directing the car manufacturer to provide further data in the case including technical information relating to the CO2 issue, the NOx issue and any correspondence between the car manufacturer and German regulators. He said this was not "overly onerous" on the respondent as the information was readily available and had been provided to other probes, including by the US Senate and EU regulators.

Judge Devins questioned whether this information should be served on the respondent considering they had absented themselves from proceedings.

Mr O'Dwyer pointed out counsel for Volkswagen had not been involved in the hearing, had failed to tender a witness, did not allow for witnesses' cross-examination and did not remain to cross-examine his witnesses.

"Their actions indicate they are not participating in this case," he added.

Judge Devins requested Mr O'Dwyer provide her with a draft for further application of discovery and she would then decide if the respondents should be notified. The case will continue later this month.

Irish Independent

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