Tuesday 7 April 2020 2:26 pm

Volkswagen fitted cars with emissions test 'defeat devices', High Court rules

The High Court has ruled today in favour of thousands of consumers that Volkswagen used a “defeat device” on some of its diesel cars which was able to cheat emissions tests. 

The vehicles affected were sold under Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands and were fitted with an EA 189 diesel engine.

Read more: Volkswagen hit with largest environmental fine in Canadian history

The ruling by the High Court came after around 91,000 claimants brought the legal action following reports in September 2015 that vehicles were able to “cheat” the emissions tests in order to be approved for sale.

Since that date, when Volkwagen revealed that around 11m of its vehicles around the world, including 1.2m in the UK, had been fitted with the restriction-cheating engines, the auto giant has been engulfed by the scandal.

Thus far the car maker has paid out over €30bn in fines, costs and settlements, and has faced criminal charges from German authorities.

Law firm Leigh Day represented claimants alongside Slater and Gordon.  Bozena Michalowska-Howells, solicitor at the former firm, said:

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“Many of our clients have been horrified to find out that they had been driving vehicles which were much more harmful to the environment than they were led to believe. 

“We hope that Volkswagen accepts the court’s decision and we urge them to now do the right thing and put their customers first by entering into settlement negotiations so that our clients are not forced to drag VW through the courts and be faced with further years of litigation to determine their losses.”

Gareth Pope of Slater and Gordon said: “In the judge’s own words, VW’s defence was ‘highly flawed’, ‘hopeless’ and ‘absurd’. 

“VW’s utter failure to convince the court of the merits of its case means that now is surely time for it to settle these claims and put this shameful episode behind it”.

A Volkswagen spokesperson said: “While Volkswagen is disappointed that the outcome was not in our favour, the judgment relates only to preliminary issues.

Read more: Coronavirus:Volkswagen to cease production at European plants

“To be clear, today’s decision does not determine liability or any issues of causation or loss for any of the causes of action claimed. These remain to be determined by the Court as the case continues.

“Volkswagen is considering carefully the grounds on which it may seek to appeal today’s decision.”

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