A court in London has indicated that it will give the go-signal to a group lawsuit that was filed by approximately 60,000 English owners of the cars of Volkswagen, due to the “dieselgate” scandal.
On Thursday, lawyers for Leigh Day and Slater and Gordon said that they had been given the opportunity to be the joint legal lead in the said lawsuit, which will be the biggest in English legal history. However, it is still subject to any further applications by other law firms.
Volkswagen has said that approximately 11 million cars worldwide were furnished with a software that cheated diesel emissions tests in the United States that are designed to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution and harmful car fumes.
Around 1.2 million vehicles from Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT, and Skoda are affected in the United Kingdom.
English lawyers are initiating a series of allegations, including that “defeat devices” – engine management software that is designed to mask the pollution levels – broke the rules of the European Union. They also said that the manufacturers of Volkswagen defrauded the drivers, that drivers overpaid for the vehicles, and that a software fix of Volkswagen has caused other problems with cars.
Gareth Pope, a litigation lawyer at Slater and Gordon, stated: “It has been two years since the scandal broke and the only thing that VW has offered UK consumers is a fix that our clients have told us doesn’t work.”
He added: “Now those consumers have the chance to hold VW to account for their deceit and will finally have their day in court.”
Volkswagen has already agreed to a multi-billion settlement with the authorities and owners of affected vehicles in the United States. However, the company has said that it will fight the legal action in the United Kingdom.
A spokesperson from Volkswagen stated: “We intend to defend these claims robustly and are confident of a successful outcome.” He said that the software has not been proven to be illegal in the United Kingdom and many cars had already been fixed.
They added: “We have implemented the technical measures in over 840,000 vehicles in the UK and in over 6.4 million vehicles across Europe, and the overwhelming majority of customers with these vehicles are satisfied.”
A spokesperson for one law firm said that as a fundamental step in the litigation process, the court application for a so-called Group Litigation Order (GLO) is anticipated to be finalised after the Easter break.
The first pre-trial hearing for the said case is expected to occur in early 2019.