Slater & Gordon the law firm representing more than 50,000 UK car owners has accused the car giant of insulting consumers’ intelligence by refusing to admit wrongdoing in the alleged emissions cheating scandal.
In papers filed at the High Court on Friday the 6th of July, Volkswagen denied it had deceived consumers by designing and installing illegal ‘defeat devices’ to manipulate the results of emissions tests. VW also denied that owners of affected vehicles had suffered any loss or damage.
The device, which the claimants say was installed in certain diesel engines, detected when emissions were being checked under test conditions. The device then activated pollution controls that were not employed in normal driving conditions. Thus bringing emissions in line with legislation temporarily.
This is one of biggest consumer group action cases in British legal history. More than 50,000 former VW car owners are part of the claim and consumers have until October this year to join the action.
Gareth Pope, specialist group litigation lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “It has been two years since the scandal broke, yet still VW has done nothing to compensate owners in the UK despite the fact 1.2 million people owned affected vehicles.”
“It’s important VW is held to account. We have built up a case with normal, hard-working people who have bought a car in good faith but have been taken for a ride by a car giant. It’s now time for them to hit back.”
The claim is being financed by a couple of litigation funders who have entered into a co-financing deal. Solicitors’ firms Leigh Day and Chesterfield-based Your Lawyers are also acting on the case. VW is being represented by magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
The first pre-trial hearing is expected in early 2019.
A spokesperson for VW said instigation of UK legal proceedings was unfounded, and that it will robustly defend any litigation.
They added: “We do not believe that the relevant software is a prohibited defeat device. Our UK customers have not suffered any loss or damage as a result of the emissions issue. The vehicles are safe and roadworthy, and perform as advertised. The residual value of the vehicles has been not affected as a result of the emissions issue.”
“We have implemented the technical measures in over 860,000 vehicles in the UK and in approximately 6.4 million vehicles across Europe, with the overwhelming majority of customers in question fully satisfied.”