Harcus Sinclair UK Limited, a UK law firm specialising in large group litigation, has applied for a group litigation order in claims against VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda arising out of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, which has affected 1.2 million cars in the UK alone. This is the first group litigation order sought in relation to the VW emissions scandal on behalf of UK consumers.
A group litigation order is the Court’s mechanism for handling claims involving a large number of claimants who share the same complaint. The application for the group litigation order will be heard in the High Court on 30 January 2017. Media is permitted to attend.
The value of the compensation sought is estimated to be in the region of several thousand pounds per car. There is no cost to joining the legal action. Affected cars include VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda vehicles with 1.2, 1.6 and 2.0 EA 189 diesel engines manufactured between 2009 and 2015.
In the interest of securing the best outcome for as many car owners in England and Wales who have been affected by the scandal, lead solicitor Harcus Sinclair is collaborating with law firms including Slater and Gordon. Harcus Sinclair has instructed Oliver Campbell QC, Adam Heppinstall and Nazeer Chowdhury, of Henderson Chambers. Gregory Treverton-Jones QC 39 Essex Street and Alexander Hutton QC of Hailsham Chambers.
The key allegation is that the affected cars should not have been certified as fit for sale because it is alleged that they produced higher levels of NOx emissions than the rules allowed. It is also alleged that the affected vehicles only passed official emissions tests because their engines were fitted with a ‘defeat device’ which reduces NOx emissions under test conditions.
According to the government Department for Rural Affairs, NOx emissions cause 23,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.
Damon Parker, head of litigation at Harcus Sinclair UK Ltd said: “We have paved the way for consumers who trusted but were let down by VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda to seek redress through our Courts. It is only right that UK car owners affected by the scandal have the opportunity to seek compensation. We have secured funding so that those affected can bring this claim against VW at no cost to themselves. The group action aims to ensure that, if VW is found to have misled consumers about the environmental damage caused by their cars, they are penalised accordingly so as to discourage this sort of behaviour from happening again.”
Jacqueline Young, head of group litigation at Slater and Gordon, said: “VW has shown utter contempt, not just for the rights and health of their UK consumers but also for the environment. This legal action is the best opportunity that British customers will have for holding VW to account over this scandal.”
Individuals and small companies can join the claim without cost. Litigation in the UK can be lengthy and expensive, which can deter individuals from taking legal action. So for the purpose of the case against VW, Harcus Sinclair has secured third party funding and insurance. Litigation funder Therium Capital Management is funding the claim.