Lawyers have begun legal action on behalf of VW owners over the emissions scandal, which could see the carmaker paying out billions in compensation in the UK.
Law firm Harcus Sinclair UK Ltd, which is collaborating with other lawyers, has applied for what it said is the first group litigation order in the UK covering claims against VW, Audi, SEAT and Škoda.
VW has admitted using 'defeat devices' in the US
It said the scandal, in which VW Group admitted using ‘defeat device’ software in the US to cheat emissions tests, has affected 1.2 million cars in the UK.
With the redress sought estimated to be several thousand pounds per car, the cost to VW could run into billions of pounds, depending on how many UK owners eventually receive compensation.
The key allegation is that the affected cars should not have been certified as fit for sale because they produced higher levels of nitrogen oxide emissions than the rules allowed and only passed official emissions tests because they were fitted with a 'defeat device'.
Mary Creagh MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: ‘In the US Volkswagen faces multi-billion dollar pay-outs to drivers in environmental fines and in compensating motorists who purchased vehicles with cheat devices.
‘Last July the Commons Environmental Audit Committee called on the transport secretary to measure the contribution that Volkswagen’s cheat devices made to meeting UK emissions standards and use the results with a view to pursuing court action in the UK.
‘In the absence of Government action it is inevitable that motorists would take matters into their own hands and pursue private action in the courts.’
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 will be heard later this month.
It has also been reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a Volkswagen executive on charges of conspiracy to defraud the US.