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BMW ordered to hand over evidence in civil action brought by motorists over alleged design issue

By Tom Tuite

BMW Ireland has been ordered to hand over evidence in the first batch of civil actions taken by motorists suing over an alleged serious design fault in a range of their cars with N47 engines.

John McConville from Canal View, Clones Road, Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan has brought a civil action at Dublin District Court against BMW Automotive (Ireland) Ltd for €8,700 in damages.

The alleged problem affected the timing chains on BMW models with N47 engines, Judge Brennan heard.

In 2011 the plaintiff bought a 2008-reg BMW X5-series for €42,000. He claims significant damage was caused to his car when travelling on a busy motorway from Limerick to Dublin when the vehicle suddenly lost power.

He had to take emergency measures and pull over and wait on the hard shoulder for a tow truck for over an hour in darkness, he claims.

He claimed there was a defective engine design that prevented inspection and maintenance of the timing chain and his car needed extensive repair.

It was among the first batch of up to 50 similar cases being prepared by solicitor Dermot McNamara for other motorists affected by the timing chain problems in BMWs with N47 engines.

Barrister for the plaintiff, Mr Andrew Walker (instructed by Mr McNamara) said BMW had tried to limit the amount of evidence on engine design and other vehicles that had been affected.

He said the car firm wanted to restrict disclosure and limit it to information about cars made in a certain time period, 2008 and 2014, and with a minimum of 150,000 and maximum 180,000 miles on the clock.

The plaintiff’s car had a timing chain problem after doing 168,000 miles.

His barrister argued that the issue was an inherent design fault and not wear and tear so the mileage was not relevant and the problem could have arisen after 85,000 or up to 185,000 miles.

Another disclosure was sought in relation to notifications the company got of other complaints received and repairs carried out.

John O’Regan, counsel BMW Ireland said the respondent imported the cars and distributed them to BMW dealers around the country. He agreed the Irish firm was part of the German car manufacturer’s group.

He resisted the plaintiff’s request for the information on all models with N47 engines in Ireland and the UK.

He argued that was a disproportionate request for a district court civil action and in Ireland alone tens of thousands of the cars had been sold.

In Mr McConville’s test case, Judge Brennan ordered BMW to provide the evidence about the engines in their cars sold in Ireland with the N47 engines as well as repairs carried out between 2008 and 2014.

He specified that it would be limited to within a range of 50,000 miles above and below what was on the clock.

While he said that this was not a template for the order he would make in the ensuing actions, it was the “gist” of the disclosure order he would be making in the other actions to come.

Mr McConville’s case also along with two others were adjourned until September 25 next.