A recent Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal case in Australia, Spanagel v Easy Auto 123 & Anor  QCAT 23, dealt with a dispute between a car owner and a used car dealership, the first respondent in the case.
The plaintiff, Mr Spanagel, purchased a used 2019 V6 Volkswagen Amarok from Easy Auto 123 and shortly after, discovered that the engine was not functioning properly. He then sought to have the engine repaired under the manufacturer’s warranty, however, Volkswagen (VW) refused to comply with the warranty.
In response, Mr Spanagel brought the matter to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), where he argued that VW breached its manufacturer’s guarantee by failing to comply with the warranty. The Tribunal agreed with Mr Spanagel and found that VW was in breach of their warranty.
As a result of VW’s breach, the Tribunal concluded that Mr Spanagel was entitled to damages. Originally, Mr Spanagel sought $28,000 in damages, which included the cost of a new engine and an additional $5,000 for damages. However, the Tribunal noted that there was no explanation or evidence provided to support the $5,000 claim for damages.
In the end, the Tribunal ruled that Mr Spanagel was entitled to $23,034.55 in damages, which represented the amount by which the payout for the vehicle was reduced by the RACQ (a vehicle insurance company) after it was deemed a write-off, due to the cost of repairing the engine.
Claim under warranty
A claim under warranty refers to a legal claim made by a consumer (Mr Spanagel in this case) against a manufacturer (VW) for a defect in a product (vehicle) that was covered under the warranty.
Mr Spanagel claimed that the engine failure in his vehicle was due to poor lubrication and therefore covered under the warranty. The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) requires that a warranty against defects must comply with specific requirements, and the manufacturer (VW) is guaranteed to comply with the express warranty given to the consumer. If the manufacturer fails to comply, the consumer can take legal action and recover damages from the manufacturer.
Onus of proof
The emphasis in this part of the onus of proof section is that the burden of proof in civil litigation lies on the plaintiff to prove the essential elements of the cause of action, and the burden is on the defendant to prove any facts that would be a good defence.
In this case, Mr Spanagel has fulfilled his burden of proof and established a prima facie claim. VW, however, seeks to avoid liability by claiming someone else changed the oil, and thus the onus of proof is on VW to prove this defence. The Tribunal found that VW failed to discharge this burden.
In conclusion, this case serves as a reminder to manufacturers to uphold their warranties and to consumers to protect their rights. The Tribunal’s ruling demonstrates that consumers have the right to receive the benefits promised by a manufacturer’s warranty and that manufacturers must comply with those promises.
- The Importance of Understanding Warranties and Guarantees: This case highlights the importance of thoroughly researching and understanding the terms of any warranties and guarantees before purchasing a used vehicle.
- Keeping Detailed Records: It is also important to keep detailed records of any issues that may arise with the vehicle, as this can help strengthen your case in the event of a dispute.
- The burden of Proof in Civil Litigation: The case also demonstrates the importance of understanding the burden of proof in civil litigation, as the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff to prove the essential elements of their cause of action.
- Compliance with Consumer Laws: The case serves as a reminder that manufacturers must comply with the specific requirements of consumer laws, such as the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), in order to avoid legal action and potential damages.
- The Onus of Proof in Defending Claims: This case also shows the importance of understanding the onus of proof in defending against a claim, as the defendant must prove any facts that would be a good defence.
- Potential for Reduced Damages: Finally, the case highlights the possibility of damages being reduced during proceedings, as was the case with Mr Spanagel’s original claim for the cost of
repairing the engine.
The Spanagel v Easy Auto 123 & Anor case highlights the importance of thoroughly researching and understanding the terms of any warranties and guarantees when purchasing a used vehicle.
By taking these precautions, buyers can help ensure that they are fully protected in the event of any problems with their vehicle.
However, if a dispute does arise, it is in the best interest of the consumer to seek the advice and representation of experienced consumer dispute lawyers such as Victor Legal. With our in-depth knowledge of consumer law and dispute resolution, we can help protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case.