A Company Above the Law

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What a to-do! The legal team of Volkswagen has walked out of an Irish court after the judge ruled that the case, which involves a motorist suing the company following the emissions scandal, is legally fit to proceed. Imagine if you’d done that in a court of law – arrested before you reached the front door.

MSM hacks tell us we live in a democracy

That’s how far we have eroded democracy when a global company feels able to turn its back on a court’s ruling and walk away. Indeed, the withdrawal of hard won civil rights goes much further.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal, (TTIP) – a brazen misnomer to camouflage the reduction of civil rights, if ever there was one – will allow companies to sue councils and governments if they are refused entry into an industry or social service to establish private investment and ownership.

Broad swathes of European  population are opposed to the ‘free trade’ agreement as is the EC itself. Some 145,000 European citizens voiced their disapproval in a “public consultation” undertaken by the European Commission, with many expressing fear that US companies might seek to overturn EU laws on genetic engineering, environmental protection and food quality.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The hurdle is special rights given to TTIP investors, who would be able to challenge countries in special international dispute settlement panels that bypass national courts. It’s a pill that even those who believe in the deal are having difficulty swallowing.

Hence, we have an incident where Volkswagen’s legal representatives feel able to tell the high court of a country to take a flying f….

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VW cars are sold internationally, only the USA is to be compensated

You get a free car, and you, but NOT you

Volkswagen will pay billions in compensation to the USA government for defrauding VW drivers, but refuse to pay a penny to UK and European VW drivers because our emissions regulations are more relaxed. Whoopee!

The company screws up the environment with toxic emissions to favour its bottom line profits. Will the autocratic head of VW be seen in the dock? Martin Winterkorn is above the company, which itself is above the law. He was ‘removed’ for reasons of safety.

Over the last few years we have seen any number of international companies, banks included, exhibit muscle by claiming in various ways they are above the law. The banks’ motto was ‘too big to fail.’

They are tyrannies unaccountable to government or electorate. Volkswagen is only the latest in a long line.

And there’s more

Readers know I like to keep my eye on what happens in Ireland. The Republic is the nearest place that overthrew colonial rule and survived. So I was bound to notice that VW have shown their distaste for the Irish courts by turning their back on a court’s decision.

Irish news outlet RTE reported that Roscommon-based VW owner Eithne Higgins (a good Irish name) is suing VW because the emissions scandal may impact her car’s road tax, after Volkswagen admitted incorporating electronic devices to manipulate emissions during official testing.

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Paul Fogarty (centre) VW’s Irish counsel. Doing his best to hide his car’s exhaust pipe?

Slippery lawyers says it all

Volkswagen’s legal representative, Paul Fogarty, said the court proceedings were “utterly unsatisfactory, unfair and inappropriate”, and duly walked out in a tizzy, (I don’t mean a Renault car) after Judge Devins, the presiding judge, said she would hear Higgins’ case.

It’s reported that Fogarty informed the judge that no company representatives will be attending the hearing following Judge Devins’ decision. Fogarty also called into question the legality of the court’s determining of the case. How’s that for bare-faced cheek?

The case will continue, although RTE reports that Evan O’Dwyer, representing Higgins, accused Volkswagen of attempting to stall or interrupt the process multiple times. Car fans might recall the CEO of VW assuring owners VW was humbled by what it had done, and everybody would receive compensation, in some cases a new car. That guarantee didn’t last long.

Blighty sucks up to VW and buys more diesel cars 

What we get is token criticism, the pretence that we live in a democratic state where the citizen is protected from exploitation.

Volkswagen has come under criticism for holding its stance on offering No compensation to affected customers despite US customers being compensated. Several parliamentary committees urged the Tory government to take salutary action, but so far it’s all Brexit means Brexit but not justice means justice.

VW malfeasance gets bigger by the day, but company executives take shelter in knowing other car companies probably did the same thing, and what government is going to ban or restrict entire conglomerates from selling their  vehicles to unwary Brits?

An Italian consumer group also found the Volkswagen fix being applied to their subsidiary company cars ineffective, after an Audi Q5 that had been recalled showed higher emissions post-fix. Fiat used a similar method of manipulating emissions as Volkswagen. Oh dear.

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Judge Devins – ruled VW must still share cheat  statistics though they left the court

The incompetence of the UK government

Had it been the Scottish Government there would be cat calls of derision aimed at the SNP, demands for its administration to resign en masse, and call an election.

So far, big bad companies have largely focused their sights on developing nations, which are forced to accept these kinds of provisions just to be granted the right to export to rich countries. You could say investor protection is traditionally a law of the strongest.

And if anybody thinks such cases will be few in number, ever since these clauses started becoming commonplace in trade treaties, companies like Exxon and Dow Chemical have invoked investor protection measures in hundreds of different cases.

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Behind Ethnie Higgens comes a County Mayo law firm with hundreds more claimants – the floods gates are open!

VW, go home

For my part I’d have to ask myself, if VW produced a car that ran on air, and had no servicing costs, would I still buy from VW knowing they are a dishonourable and dishonest company? The answer is no – the air would probably be recycled, bought cheap off airlines jam packed with viruses. Wait until the Chinese discover their smog is part due to cheating car companies. So far, VW has had it really easy. Oh, boy.

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5 Responses to A Company Above the Law

  1. Another good article!

    I was interested to note the BBC are claiming 1000 complaints against the so called Scottish 6 news programme. Also, the three pilots made in Scotland were lambasted by the high heid yins in London.

  2. Andy in Germany says:

    As a father of a small child made seriously ill because of car pollution -and basically told “tough sh*t: you live in the wrong place.” I’m with you entirely.

    As one peace activist said: “Ride your bike”. It’s an effective form of protest.

  3. lanark says:

    It seems people (in the UK at least) haven’t been put off in the slightest by the VW scandal and are buying their TDIs as much as ever. More fool them, when they have to stump up thr best part of a thousand pounds for a new clutch and dual mass flywheel (I was one such mug).

    If you are thinking of buying diesel – don’t. A petrol Toyota or Mazda is a much safer bet.

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