Daimler has said its multi-billion-dollar agreement in principle in the US over diesel emissions won’t stop it defending any group action brought here in the UK.
Pending final approval of the relevant authorities and courts, the manufacturer is to pay out some $2.2bn – comprising approximately $1.5bn (£1.15bn) to the US authorities and roughly $700m (£534.6m) including fees and costs for the class action – to settle civil and environmental claims over the emission control systems of some 250,000 diesel passenger cars and vans there.
It also expects to have to pay another mid-three-digit-million figure in expenses to satisfy the settlement requirements for Daimler and its subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA.
All told, Daimler reckons this will hit its cashflow over the next three years, with the main impact being felt within 12 months.
Aman Johal, director of consumer action law firm Your Lawyers, which is representing claims across England and Wales over the Mercedes-Benz dieselgate scandal, said: ‘The US ruling on the Daimler settlement shows that the walls continue to close in on diesel carmakers who put profits before people by cheating emissions testing and endangering thousands of lives across the globe.
‘Daimler must be held to account for its reprehensible actions that have caused physical, environmental and financial damage worldwide. This ruling should act as a wake-up call for what Daimler can expect in UK courts, as well as sending a clear warning to other carmakers who stand accused of similar behaviour.
‘Your Lawyers considers that damages should be much higher here than in the US. This is because legislation like The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations means that Mercedes drivers could be eligible to receive up to 100 per cent of the purchase price of their vehicle, which could range between £23,000 and £96,000 in some cases.
‘The Court of Appeal’s recent refusal to grant VW permission to appeal against the finding that their vehicles were fitted with unlawful defeat device means that it is overwhelmingly likely that UK courts will rule in the claimants’ favour overall.’
However, a Daimler spokesperson has rebuffed Your Lawyer’s comments, telling Car Dealer today (Aug 17): ‘With regard to the US settlement, the vehicles in question were produced exclusively for the North American market.
‘The emissions control system of US vehicles differs in comparison to vehicles in Europe both with respect to hardware components and configuration of the control software. In addition, the legal framework and the certification process in the US is different to that in Europe.
‘We believe the claims brought forward by the UK law firms are without merit, and will vigorously defend against any group action.’
The spokesperson added that that unlike VW, Daimler had filed objections against the German federal motor transport authority’s (KBA) recall orders over diesel exhaust emissions, with those objection proceedings ongoing.
The KBA is the relevant European type approval agency for the UK, they said, also pointing out that German courts had ruled in favour of Daimler in more than 95 per cent of the customer lawsuits that had been brought.
‘The German higher regional courts alone have issued more than 110 rulings in our favour and none against the company,’ they said.
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