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UK judge rules VW Group did install illegal emissions ‘defeat devices’

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A High Court judge has concluded that the Volkswagen Group did install illegal emissions defeat devices to its cars to rule in favour of a class action brought by 90,000 aggrieved owners.

Lawyers behind the dieselgate class action seeking compensation for vehicle owners, which got underway following preliminary hearings in December last year, aimed to establish that the German carmaker behind brands including Audi, Seat and Skoda deliberately misled its customers by installing the devices in what amounted to a breach of European law.

In a ruling delivered remotely yesterday (April 6) High Court Judge Mr Justice Waksman found that “the software function in issue in this case is indeed a defeat device” as defined by the European Union, adding that he was “far from alone in this conclusion”.

Sky News reported that evidence presented by the team at legal firm Slater Gordon claimed the vehicles were emitting up to 40 times the legal limit when out on the road.

VW has said that it intends to appeal yesterday’s (April 7) court ruling, however, and continues to argue that it should not pay compensation as vehicle owners did not suffer financial losses.

Gareth Pope, head of group litigation at Slater and Gordon, said: "In the judge's own words, VW's defence was 'highly flawed', 'hopeless' and 'absurd'," asserting that it was now “time for it to settle these claims."

A statement issued by the Volkswagen Group said that it was “disappointed” with the outcome of yesterday’s hearing, but asserted that the judgment “relates only to preliminary issues” and, as such, did not determine liability or any issues of causation or loss.

These remain to be determined by the court, it said.

The statement added: "Volkswagen remains confident in our case that we are not liable to the claimants as alleged and the claimants did not suffer any loss. We will continue to defend our position robustly.

"Nothing in this decision today changes this. We look forward to making progress with defending the remainder of the case.

"Volkswagen is considering carefully the grounds on which it may seek to appeal today's decision."

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