British Motorists Are Fighting For Dieselgate Compensation

Tens of thousands of motorists throughout the UK who purchased Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and SEAT models are seeking compensation. This follows the infamous Dieselgate scandal…

“A Decisive Court Battle”

Around 90,000 British motorists are taking legal action against the Volkswagen Group in the biggest class action of its kind in the country. It follows the Dieselgate scandal, which saw the automaker install emissions cheat devices in millions of its vehicles; showing that they were ‘clean’ in test scenarios when they were much more polluting in ‘real world’ circumstances. Back in 2015, VW admitted that it had manipulated devices in more than 11 million vehicles worldwide; and pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the US; forcing it to fork out billions in fines and compensation. The then VW CEO, Martin Winterkorn, apologised on behalf of the company. He said, “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law”.

Gareth Pope, who’s the head of Slater and Gordon which represents more than 70,000 of the 90,000 claimants, believes the trial can do more than just compensate British motorists. He said, “this trial will establish once and for all whether VW installed prohibited ‘defeat devices’ in affected vehicles; and is a significant milestone in our clients’ attempts to hold VW accountable in the UK”.

Legal Acrobatics? 

Despite VW’s previous acceptance of guilt, it continues to face judges and juries with different legal approaches. Tom de la Mare QC, representing VW’s customers, has emphasised this legal acrobatics. He said, “VW have raised a range of progressively more inventive arguments as to why the software function is not a defeat device – arguments which have changed over time, and have been been deployed selectively before different courts and tribunals”. According to him, “it is difficult to think of a more obvious cheat than the one VW used”.

VW, however, is focusing on whether the 90,000 customers suffered a loss. In a statement it said, “Volkswagen Group maintains that there has never been a defeat device installed in any of its vehicles in the UK”. It added, “the question the judge is deciding in this hearing is not whether the affected vehicles contained such a device, but whether the legal definition is met in certain circumstances. We will continue to defend robustly our position in the high court”. They’ll be defending themselves for some time, however, as the trial is expected to last between two and three years. Either way, it’s clear that more is at stake for VW than simply the funds required to compensate British drivers.

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