Volkswagen’s admission of guilt in the US to charges of fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements strengthens the case for compensation here, believes the legal team representing 30,000 VW owners in the UK.
The German manufacturer has agreed to spend $25 billion (£21.8bn) in the United States on claims from those duped by defeat devices, but similar compensation schemes have not been put forward here.
Desiree Maghoo, a spokesperson at Harcus Sinclair UK, the London-based law firm behind the UK owners’ compensation claim, said: “There is no doubt that VW’s admission of guilt in the US strengthens our legal case in the UK.
“And the 30,000-plus UK car owners who have joined vwemissionsaction.com are even more determined to take action and even more confident that they will be awarded compensation through our UK courts for buying cars fitted with cheat devices, which we allege were not fit for sale and poisonous to our environment.
“Since the admissions of guilt in the US, we have seen an overall increase in the number of UK car owners who have joined our action.”
— Volkswagen UK (@UKVolkswagen) March 9, 2017
The diesel emissions scandal started in September 2015 when the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen. It found that the company had fitted devices to some of its diesel cars to trick emissions-testing software into registering lower figures.
Last month, Volkswagen UK boss Paul Willis told the Transport Select Committee that the company had not ‘misled’ customers here.
In court in Detroit on Friday, Volkswagen’s general counsel, Manfred Doess, said the company pleaded guilty to fraud, obstructing justice and falsifying statements.
In a statement, Volkswagen said: “Volkswagen deeply regrets the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis. The agreements that we have reached with the U.S. government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear. The plea today is another important step forward for our company and all our employees, and we look forward to concluding this matter at the next hearing on April 21, 2017.
“Since this matter came to light, we have worked tirelessly to address the misconduct that took place within our company and make things right for our affected customers. Volkswagen today is not the same company it was 18 months ago – the change process under way is the biggest in our history. We have taken significant steps to strengthen accountability, increase transparency and transform our corporate culture.
“We know that there is more work to do. We will continue to press forward with these and many other important changes to the way we operate, as we work to earn back the trust of our stakeholders, build a better company and make Volkswagen an example of how a socially responsible company should act and lead in the years ahead.”