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Mazda v ACCC ‘unconscionable conduct’ verdict upheld by Federal Court

The entire Federal Court has dismissed appeals by both Mazda and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding the ruling made in November 2021.

The ACCC appealed the ruling, arguing that Mazda had in fact engaged in unscrupulous conduct in its dealings with nine consumers.

In contrast, Mazda appealed the Court’s ruling, arguing that it had not made 49 false statements to consumers about their consumer rights.

“I accept that this review judgment may be controversial and that, in general, the case has been made more difficult by the ACCC than it would have been if they had not sought to demonstrate serious failure or advance a case. “systematic,” Judge Lee concluded in his ruling, calling the ACCC Case “discrete, repetitive, and complex.”

However, the Department of Justice has said that Mazda’s conduct towards one of the owners affected was “not only grossly wrong but was of the nature but according to prevailing Australian standards of business conduct, such behavior cannot be considered conscientious.”

The case will be referred back to the magistrate judge for trial at a later date in relation to the penalties and orders required by the ACCC.

A spokesperson for Mazda Australia said: “Mazda is pleased that the Federal Court by majority has upheld Justice O’Callaghan’s ruling that it did not engage in unscrupulous conduct.

“This decision is an acknowledgment that Mazda acted within the law and that Mazda has been and remains committed to ensuring that its customers are treated fairly under the law.

“We are disappointed that the Court upheld Justice O’Callaghan’s ruling that it engaged in misleading conduct and are carefully reviewing the Court’s decision on that matter.”

The court has yet to issue a penalty for Mazda Australia. However, previous cases brought by the ACCC have resulted in enforceable court commitments from Volkswagen, Holden and Hyundai designed to improve compliance with Australian Consumer Law.

The consumer watchdog has now said it will “carefully consider the Court’s ruling”.

ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said: “We have appealed this case because we believe that businesses allow consumers to ‘run around’ and discourage consumers from pursuing their rights to Refunds or vehicle replacements are not acceptable.

Nine consumers at the center of the case have asked Mazda for a refund or for a vehicle replacement after encountering serious and repeated defects during the first year or two of ownership.

One customer had their Mazda engine replaced three times, but their car continued to have problems.

The ACCC has accused Mazda of pressuring consumers to accept offers below what they are entitled to after repeated repairs failed to resolve problems with its vehicles and taking legal action against them. company in October 2019.

It filed an appeal on April 14, 2022, a few months after the Court made its decision.

In her November 2021 ruling, Justice O’Callaghan found Mazda’s conduct to represent “poor customer service” but rejected the ACCC’s allegation of unscrupulous conduct.

Federal Court Judge O’Callaghan said: “It is not unconscionable behavior for Mazda to always give consumers exactly what they are looking for.

The court found that the company had made 49 false or misleading personal statements about the interests of consumers to customers who were asking for refunds for Mazda 2, 6, and CX-3 vehicles. , CX-5 and BT-50 suffer from recurrent errors.

Federal Court Judge O’Callaghan found Mazda on behalf of customers that it had only the right to make repairs, to offer only a partial refund of the original purchase price or to provide a replacement car to the customer provided they have to pay for them.

“The court found that Mazda misled these consumers about their consumer right by claiming that they were only entitled to have their vehicle repaired, even though the consumer’s right under the Australian Consumer Law also covers refunds or replacements in the event of major damage. The ACCC said in a statement.

“Mazda failed to comply with its own compliance policies in dealing with consumer complaints and sought to discourage consumers from pursuing their right to a refund or an alternative means of payment,” Ms. Carver alleges. position.

THAN: Mazda, ACCC all appeal Federal Court ruling

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