Sunday 25 September 2016

Volkswagen lawyers walk out of court over 'unfair' case

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Mr. Paul Fogarty, Junior Counsel for Volkswagen, centre with colleagues at Castlebar District Court, Co. Mayo for a case taken by Eithne Higgins from Co Roscommon against Volkswagen. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Mr. Paul Fogarty, Junior Counsel for Volkswagen, centre with colleagues at Castlebar District Court, Co. Mayo for a case taken by Eithne Higgins from Co Roscommon against Volkswagen. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus

Lawyers for Volkswagen walked out of court in Mayo yesterday after labelling an ongoing case regarding emissions as "entirely inappropriate and unfair".

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Barrister Paul Fogarty and two instructing solicitors from A&L Goodbody left Castlebar District Court after Judge Mary Devins ruled she would continue with the case.

Earlier, Mr Fogarty told Judge Devins that his clients, Volkswagen Group Ireland and Volkswagen AG, had obtained legal advice that the court had no jurisdiction to take the case.

He said that, as a result, representatives were not present in court and the defence would be calling no witnesses. However, Judge Devins said the case would continue "without Hamlet" and later referred to the actions of the legal team as a "spectacular walk-out".

The case is being taken by mum-of-three Eithne Higgins Croghan, Boyle, Co Roscommon. She is seeking compensation after Volkswagen admitted cheating on emissions tests.

The case will deal with whether there was an issue with carbon dioxide (CO2) and/or oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions on the vehicle in question. Ms Higgins's claim states that there may be implications in respect to the payment of Vehicle Registration Tax or road tax as a result of incorrect emissions data.

The court heard that after the emission revelations emerged, she attempted to trade in her car at three different garages, each time unsuccessfully. Evan O'Dwyer, representing Ms Higgins, criticised the respondents and their legal representation, stating that he and his client had been "bullied". He also claimed Ms Higgins had received three letters stating the company would pursue her for costs if she proceeded with the case.

A statement from Volkswagen Ireland's technical services manager Stephen McDonnell was read into the record, stressing that CO2 emissions were not linked to the NOx emissions.

However, this was dismissed by emissions expert Horace Calvert Stinson, who said it didn't stack up with theory, practice or experience.

The case continues today.

Irish Independent

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