Volkswagen has lost an appeal in a landmark ruling on the Dieselgate scandal.
The ruling could mean the UK’s largest ever group action can now continue, according to consumer action law firm Your Lawyers, as well as opening the door for other similar emissions-related cases involving Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Renault.
In April, VW appealed against a ruling that said the firm installed ‘defeat devices’ in thousands of diesel vehicles to trick emissions recording software. However, the latest decision by Lord Justice Males said “the judge’s ‘defeat device’ issue was clearly correct”.
US consumers have been awarded $9.8bn in settlements related to Dieselgate, with the Federal Trade Commission saying VW had agreed to buy back or repair more than 500,000 affected vehicles. Claimants are being given between $5,100 and $10,000 in compensation on top of the 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.”
A Volkswagen Group spokesperson said: “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.”