Volkswagen owners to take group case over emissions scandal
Volkswagen drivers in England are taking their emissions scandal claims to the High Court, with cases in Northern Ireland expected to follow suit in the coming months.
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Thousands of VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda owners want compensation in what could be the largest consumer action in UK legal history.
At a three-day hearing in London that began yesterday, lawyers are applying for a group litigation order to progress the case. It will decide a deadline for claimants and a lead solicitor to manage the action.
Here, Belfast solicitors' firm Edward & Co is preparing an application for a group action order, which will allow all those who wish to claim to proceed in a joint action in Northern Ireland. The case is expected to go before Belfast High Court in the coming months.
Group admitted in September 2015 that 482,000 of its diesel vehicles in the US were fitted with defeat device software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they were being tested for emissions.
The company announced that 11 million vehicles were affected worldwide, including almost 1.2 million in the UK.
It has agreed a settlement running into billions with the US authorities and owners of affected vehicles, but there have been no payouts in the UK.
Dorcas Crawford, partner at Edwards & Co Solicitors, said separate proceedings have to be issued in Northern Ireland as it is in a different jurisdiction, a process which began last year.
"Edwards & Co issued the High Court writ here in September 2017.
"We are now preparing the application for a group action order, which will allow all those who wish to claim to proceed in a joint action in Northern Ireland," she said.
"We are working closely with the lawyers in England so that work and cost are not duplicated.
"At present we have approximately 500 clients registered and we expect this to increase significantly in the coming weeks as knowledge of the action grows."
In February 2017 Volkswagen UK's Paul Willis told the Commons' Transport Select Committee that the firm hoped to have completed a programme fixing the affected vehicles by the autumn.
However, in November figures showed that a third remained unfixed.