Motorists launch group action on VW emissions scandal
Motorists here are preparing to finally mount a High Court group claim against Volkswagen over the so-called emissions scandal.
A deadline of April 24 has been set for Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda or Seat owners to join the collective law suit.
The claim centres around 1.2, 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel engines made by the four manufacturers.
Similar actions are already under way across Europe centred around claims, which first emerged in 2015, that the companies developed vehicles to hide the true extent of exhaust emissions to appear within regulations.
Belfast-based Edwards & Co has issued proceedings against Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Seat and VW Financial Services (UK), as well as a number of authorised dealers here including Agnew Volkswagen, Donnelly Volkswagen, Edwin May Volkswagen and TJ Hamilton Volkswagen. It follows the granting of a group order action at the end of January. Dorcas Crawford, partner at Edwards and Co, said the group claim led by the firm is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland.
"There may be as many as 70,000 affected vehicles in Northern Ireland and the owners are eligible to join the claim," she said.
"It is vitally important that they complete the registration process before the deadline set by the High Court, to ensure they can claim compensation.
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"If damages are achieved, we expect them to be modest, in the low thousands. Any compensation awarded will reflect the difference in performance of their vehicle and the fact that the consumer did not receive the product as advertised."
Claimants wishing to take part here must pay £120, as unlike in England and Wales, local solicitors are not permitted to act on a 'no win, no fee' basis.
Volkswagen said yesterday that it was "disappointed" by the proceedings.
"Volkswagen Group is confident in its case and will defend itself rigorously in these proceedings in Northern Ireland. There is no legal basis for claims against it in relation to the NOx issue. Northern Irish customers have not suffered any loss or damage as a result of the NOx issue. The vehicles are safe and roadworthy, and perform as advertised," it added.
"The required approvals are available and have not been withdrawn. Implementation of the voluntary service campaign is ongoing. The residual value of the vehicles has not been affected as a result of the diesel issue. That remains the position."