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Friday, 20 June 2014

Competition Law Challenges in the Motor Vehicle Sector 2014

This well-established annual event takes place on 24 June 2014, at the Sheraton Brussels Hotel, Brussels, Belgium.
Join IBC’s cutting-edge forum Competition Law Challenges in the Motor Vehicle Sector to analyse recent cases such as KIA, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW. Debate the wide-ranging consequences of recent policy developments for the motor vehicle sector, such as the Commission’s upcoming new Damages Actions Directive.
Key reasons to attend:
  • Gain updates and insights into the most crucial competition law developments in the motor vehicle sector
  • Examine practical challenges of recent cases in a unique collaborative atmosphere
  • Review the impact of the changing rules and how best to master their implementation
  • Discuss the current legal framework (or lack of it)
This high-level, must-attend forum will provide in-depth, but practical legal analysis of the main issues that confront vehicle manufacturers, dealers and repairers, parts manufacturers, parts distributors and the independent after-sales market.
Learn more, see the latest agenda and register with a 20% discount courtesy of Motor Law today at

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Conseil d'Etat upholds Mercedes refrigerant injunction

Last summer's great story of France's ban on sales of Mercedes cars containing an air-conditioning chemical that had been banned because of its harmful effects on the environment has been wrapped up (at one level, anyay) by the Conseil d'Etat, which upheld an injunction issued last year. Meanwhile the matter continues to rumble on at the European level, with the Commission reportedly commencing action against Germany and other Member States which seem to have adopted a Nelson approach to the problem, allowing new models to be marketed under old approvals so they could take advantage of transitional provisions. And the Commission is also reported to have delivered statements of objections to Honeywell and Du Pont relating to their joint venture agreement to produice the new chemical, HFO-1234yf.

Case spanning 13 years is 'longest case' in history, judge says

According to the Telegraph,  Mr Justice Moylan has described a case in which he recently made an order as the longest-running case in history, at over 13 years.  Although it is a family case, it's something that every observer of the legal scene will find interesting: and many observers will, perhaps, find unsurprising. The facts of the case, which involve parental access, do explain how a matter can have gone on for so long, as the unfortunate child has grown from a baby to a teenager whose wishes must be taken into account, even determine the outcome of the matter.

GM Will Rework or Replace Keys on 3.16 Million U.S. Cars

According to a press release from the company (16 June), GM Will Rework or Replace Keys on 3.16 Million U.S. Cars.  It says that about 3.16 million 2000 to 2014 model year cars in the U.S. are affected, and provides a helpful and very brief summary of the cause of the company's present woes:

... the ignition switch may inadvertently move out of the “run” position if
the key is carrying extra weight and experiences some jarring event.
The solution?

The use of a key with a hole, rather than a slotted key, addresses
the concern of unintended key rotation due to a jarring road event, such
as striking a pothole or crossing railroad tracks.

Friday, 13 June 2014

France: CNPA takes Chevrolet to court

The Conseil National des Professions de l'Automobile states on its website (and the story is also in L'Argus) that it has responded to the 'brutal' termination of Chevrolet dealers' contracts by instituting proceedings before the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris (having originally sued in the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Pontoise but found that it would take too long to come to court). A hearing took place on 2 May, and a second hearing was fixed for 30 May, but there's no news that I can find about that.

The grounds for the complaint (translated from the French using Google Translate, with a little editing thereafter) are:
  • The brutality of the announcement of the withdrawal.
- The last contract was entered into in June 2013. This is obviously accompanied by investment requirements, a few weeks before the announcement of the withdrawal.
- Contractual loyalty would demand that the network be informed earlier (and at least before the press)!
- This is especially true since the registrations were continuously growing in France. Nobody expected this to happen!
  • Chevrolet's disloyalty.
The CNPA will provide the Tribunal with evidence that GM's decision is the outcome of a long reflection, intended to favour its other brand OPEL.
  • The notice was mortgaged before its notification [or might we say in English that it was a fait accompli?].
- Advertising campaigns about destocking until the exhaustion of stocks showed it to be true.
- Moreover, the delivery time for customers is at least 5 months (and the price of vehicles has increased, officially "among others due to the increase in VAT").
  • Breach of contract by Chevrolet, comprising:
- Lack of stock.
- The removal of demonstration vehicles.
- The removal of the budget estimate tool.
- The reduction and disappearance of the communication plan.
- The elimination of sales targets and action plans.
Another case to watch. 

All Our Patent Are Belong To You (Tesla Motors)

I'm not sure about the precise meaning of that strange phrase, but this statement makes clear that what the American electric-car maker is doing is making its technology fairly freely available. Fairly freely? Well, probably on the advice of a cautious lawyer, Mr Musk has announced that anyone can use the patented technology without restriction, in good faith. Those three words could provide an awful lot of escape routes.

The blog post in which Mr Musk made the announcement speaks about 'open-source', though to be fair only as a metaphor for what the company is doing. I don't think the concept of open-source works literally except in the software licensing field, where the source code is usually (in the sort of licensing models with which we are most familiar, at any rate) as closed as can possibly be. The general idea reads over quite well, though, and one has to applaud Tesla's openness. At least, I do.

Why do this? Because it's an emerging technology that requires a huge infrastructure - in particular, charging points. The greater the parc of electric vehicles, and the more manufacturers there are involved to share the costs, the more likely the infrastructure is to be built and the more viable electric cars will be. 

USA: Chrysler-Jeep dealer hopes to reopen

Rimrock Auto Group in Billings, Montana, lost its Chrysler-Jeep franchise (along with 700 ohter outlets) five years ago. It won an arbitration ruling against Chrysler in 2010, and the manufacturer issued a letter of intent to reopen, but Lithia Motors, which had been awarded the Chrysler and Jeep franchises after the original termination, challenged that under the state's dealer franchise law. Under that law, Rimrock was a new dealership. Although both Rimrock and the manufacturer opposed that challenge, arguing that the local market would benefit from having another dealer, the state attorney general decided in favour of Lithia and Chrysler and Rimrock appealed again, this time to the Motor Vehicle Division of the Montana Department of Justice. At the time of writing, they are still waiting for the outcome.

It seems extraordinary to anyone accustomed to the way things are done in Europe that a matter like this should offer so many opportunities for review. Here it would be a simple matter of freedom of contract, and no Department of Justice with a Motor Vehicle Division in it. The European Commission has never been set up to act as a regulator.

Even more extraordinary, as if it were not enough to be able to take so many legal actions, Stephen A Zabawa, co-owner of Rimrock, is working with fellow former Billings Chrysler dealer Bill Underriner (vice-chairman of the NADA) to argue before the state legislature for changes in the law to give dealers even more protection. The idea of it!

'via Blog this'

Monday, 9 June 2014

Plaintiffs' Lawyers Take Aim at GM for Recall - WSJ

Plaintiffs' Lawyers Take Aim at GM for Recall - WSJ - too much ammunition for claimants in the GM report on the defective ignition switch scandal?

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Euro NCAP's Spotlight Falls on Heavy Quadricycles

Although they are not subject to the same safety legislation, EuroNCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) has subjected four heavy quadricycles to crash tests: the results are here and they might make some people feel rather uncomfortable. They do note that these vehicles, which are an increasingly popular alternative to scooters, offer better protection than something that you just sit on. The big problem might be that buyers don't appreciate that a machine can be street legal but untested.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Drug dealer injured in crash entitled to payment under MIB agreement

Although the judge admitted that the public would feel revulsion at the outcome, Delaney v Secretary of State for Transport [2014] EWHC 1785 (QB) (03 June 2014)
shows that there is no over-riding public policy rule against
compensating a drug dealer who suffered major injuries in a car accident
while engaged in a criminal venture. The law is based on EU directives
which allow no scope for such a rule.