The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 will make it easier for people to seek compensation from companies in group actions.
A group action, also known as class action in the USA or group litigation, is when a number of people with the same complaint bring a claim against an organisation. This enables the court to deal more efficiently with the large number of cases it has to manage.
Prior to 1 October 2015 if a group of people wanted to bring a legal action, all of the people affected had to “opt in” to the claim and bring a claim in their own name. The new Consumer Rights Act allows everyone affected to be automatically included in the claimant group for matters relating to competition law such as price fixing, unless they choose to “opt out”. This means that claims will be faster to get up and running, that there will be strength in numbers and consumers with a claim should see cases settled sooner.
The VW emissions scandal that hit the news in late September 2015 sees millions of car owners being affected by a massive recall on cars that were sold to them with false emissions data. All of the car owners affected by the product recall, including owners of Audis, Seats, and Skodas, are potentially able to launch a group action against VW. Unfortunately the new opt out clause introduced by the Consumer Rights Act does not apply in this case, so if you are affected you will need to pursue a claim via the traditional multi-claimant group litigation process.
Slater and Gordon has been contacted by over 1000 car owners and is investigating the possibility of UK consumers bringing legal action against Volkswagen. If you think you have been affected, please register your details on our page VW And Audi Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Emission Scandal Legal Investigation.
Jacqueline Young is Head of Group Litigation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Follow Jacqueline Young on Twitter for live updates on the VW scandal @jacyounglawyer