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Government may act on Volkswagen emissions scandal as thousands join UK lawsuit

More than 500 people a day are believed to be joining the UK’s first major Group Litigation Order against car manufacturer Volkswagen after its emission scandal last year.

In fact, nearly 40,000 people have joined the ‘class action’ lawsuit against the German car giant to date, which has prompted the Government to comment on this landmark case.

The action brought by owners of some of the company’s popular diesel vehicles aims to obtain compensation from VW, after it used ‘defeat devices’ to lower emissions.

The car firm pleaded guilty to all criminal charges in the U.S., admitting to conspiracy and obstruction of justice by using devices to overcome strict pollution guidelines. It subsequently agreed to pay $4.3 billion (£3.5 billion) in civil and criminal penalties, however the UK Government is yet to follow suit and take VW to court.

Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “It’s been a year and a half since VW was caught deliberately fitting cheat devices to their cars to fool regulators, and the latest figures show only about a quarter have been fixed.”

“My committee has called on ministers to get on with measuring the contribution that VW’s cheat devices made to meeting UK emissions standards, and use the results to take court action against VW,” she added.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport, added: “The Government takes the unacceptable actions of VW extremely seriously. That is why we have taken swift action to protect the UK consumer. We were the first country in Europe to complete our own tests (April 2016) to ensure the issue was not industry-wide.

“We continue to push VW to take action to compensate the UK consumer. Transport minister John Hayes has met with Volkswagen on several occasions and pushed them to offer compensation every time.”

Volkswagen Group UK claim that only a very small number of customers have expressed interest in taking legal action against them in England, adding: “The vast majority of our customers that are affected by the NOx issue are satisfied with the actions that we are taking.

“We have said all along that we will robustly defend any litigation that is brought against us in England, and we have made it clear to the claimant law firms that we do not anticipate that any of our customers will in fact have suffered any loss as a result of the NOx emissions issue. The vehicles are safe and roadworthy, and perform as advertised.”

The company described the legal proceedings as “premature for a number of reasons, not least because the implementation of the technical measures in the affected vehicles is still ongoing.”

Link: Government’s Letter to VW

Thomas SpencerThomas Spencer
Tel: 00 44 (0) 207 240 0521
Email: thomas.spencer@mackrell.com

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