An appeal by car manufacturing giant Volkswagen over the dieselgate scandal has been thrown out by the High Court.
Consumer action law firm Your Lawyers said it meant that what is likely to be the UK’s largest ever group action could now continue – with ‘significant ramifications’ possible for other similar emissions cases involving car manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Renault.
VW had appealed against a ruling in April, as reported by Car Dealer, that said VW installed unlawful ‘defeat devices’ in thousands of its diesel vehicles, but in the latest decision Lord Justice Males said in the Court of Appeal that ‘the judge’s “defeat device” issue was clearly correct’.
In July, it was revealed that US consumers who had been affected had been awarded $9.8bn in settlements so far. The Federal Trade Commission said Volkswagen had agreed to buy back or repair more than half a million of the affected vehicles, with claimants given between $5,100 and $10,000 in compensation on top of the estimated value of their vehicles.
Aman Johal, director of Your Lawyers, said: ‘This latest ruling is a victory for all UK victims of the Volkswagen emissions scandal. We look forward to the case reaching its conclusion and hope for a favourable ruling for all affected claimants, with the US settlement hopefully setting the standard for compensation.
‘Volkswagen must be held to account for its reprehensible actions that have caused physical, environmental and financial damage both nationwide and globally.
‘Should justice be served in the UK courts, the total cost of Volkswagen’s transgression could place it as the largest ever group consumer action – a strong signal to other car manufacturers, including Mercedes, Nissan and Renault, who have also been accused of similar behaviour.’
Had VW won its appeal, there would have been another hearing over whether or not the software used was a ‘defeat device’ or not, delaying matters. Now the proceedings will continue with a selection of lead claimants, full disclosure and witness evidence exchanges to take place before the trial.
A final court ruling is expected before the end of 2022.
The dieselgate scandal was first revealed in September 2015.
Following the latest ruling, a Volkswagen Group spokesperson told Car Dealer: ‘Volkswagen Group is disappointed in the Court of Appeal’s decision but, of course, respects it.
‘This decision relates to the technical points of law that formed the Preliminary Issues Hearing in 2019. It does not determine the points of loss, liability and causation, which will be decided at a trial not before March 2022.
‘Volkswagen maintains that because customers have not suffered any loss, it does not owe them compensation. Nevertheless, this is a matter for the main trial in due course.
‘Volkswagen has openly acknowledged that, in relation to the emissions issue, we did not live up to our own standards. We are committed to maintaining the trust of the public through programmes such as our €33bn investment into e-mobility, bringing 75 fully electric car models to market by 2029.’