… instructs individuals to represent themselves

Yangyel Lhaden

Thimphu Dzongkhag Court, during the miscellaneous hearing on September 4, instructed individual taxi owners to submit individual appeal letters for individual representation to the court.

The taxi owners had appointed representatives among themselves in the case against Kuenphen Motors. 

Kuenphen Motors and complainants—MG ZS and Neta V taxi operators— appealed to the court after they were dissatisfied with the Dispute Settlement Committee’s (DSC) decision announced on August 17. The DSC asked Kuenphen Motors to pay Nu 30,000 to all aggrieved Neta V and MG ZS customers. The committee’s decision stated that the parties should appeal to the court within 10 working days of its decision. 

Earlier, 15 MG ZS and 40 Neta V electric taxi operators filed a case with the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA). They complained about the reduced mileage of the vehicles compared to what was advertised and increased price charged from pre-booking price for the Neta V and reduced mileage and missing features in the vehicles delivered compared to what was advertised for the MG ZS. 

Today, there are about 40 complainants with both MG ZS and Neta V taxi operators who have appealed to the court through representatives elected among themselves in a single appeal letter. 

“While I fully respect the court’s decision is in accordance with its rules and regulations, but among us, there are those who may struggle to communicate effectively or who could feel intimidated by the court’s proceedings,” a Neta V taxi operator said. “ On the other hand, there are individuals who with confidence can talk about their rights.”

The selection of representatives was intended to ensure comprehensive representation on our behalf. However, the recent requirement from the court for each complainant to submit an individual appeal letter is a matter of concern that I hope could be addressed, he added.

Representatives from the MG ZS case went to the court again yesterday to request approval for their representatives; however, the court did not accept it, as per an MG ZS taxi operator.

An official from the Supreme Court explained that the court did not accept a representative in the case due to variations in individual claims. “This decision was made to prevent potential confusion and complications in reaching a final judgment,” the official said, “The specifics of each complainant’s vehicle booking, pre-order date, and price differ significantly. Therefore, they must represent themselves since each case has unique details.”

Moreover, the official said that the DSC’s decision to pay Nu 30,000 applies to all aggrieved customers, not just taxi operator complainants who filed a case against their dealer with the CCAA. “It applies to individuals, so all aggrieved customers have to represent their cases individually.”

Neta V electric taxi operators and MG ZS taxi operator complainants said that they were discussing among themselves whether to hire a lawyer to fight the case on their behalf or whether each one of them would submit an individual appeal letter to the court.

Meanwhile, Kuenphen Motor’s lawyer is representing their case in court. Kuenphen Motors has appealed to the court based on the facts of the DSC’s investigation report, which, according to Thukten, the owner of Kuenphen Motors, did not fully disclose all of their findings. He said that he had been wrongly charged and was prepared to pay what was rightfully owed, but not the Nu 30,000 based solely on the violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

Neta V and MG ZS taxi operators have appealed to the court because DSC’s decision did not address their problem and the decision was based on a violation of their Acts and regulations for which all aggrieved customers were entitled to receive compensation from the dealer.

The next hearing will be held on September 12.