Volkswagen Group has settled a UK dieselgate litigation comprised of over 70,000 claimants with the payment of a £193 million out of court settlement.
Therium, a leading provider of investment capital, funded the claim against the German car manufacturing giant behind brands including Audi, Bentley, Cupra, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen and today (May 25) celebrated the conclusion of what it described as the “largest group action in UK legal history”.
Launched in January 2017 and due to head to court early next year, the case led by law firms Slater and Gordon, Leigh Day and PGMBM, alleged that the OEM breached automotive emissions regulations by fitting affected vehicles with unlawful ‘defeat devices’, said to reduce NOx emissions under certain test conditions.
It is now two years since High Court Judge Mr Justice Waksman concluded that the Volkswagen Group did install illegal emissions defeat devices.
As a result of today’s settlement the Volkswagen Group said that it had effectively resolved over 91,000 claims that were being brought against various Volkswagen Group and dealer entities without making admissions in respect of liability, causation or loss.
A statement issued by the OEM said: “In Volkswagen's view, the legal costs of litigating this case to a six-month trial in England, and then in relation to any further appeals by either party, were such that settlement was the most prudent course of action commercially.”
As well as the payment of £193m, the Volkswagen Group will also make a separate contribution towards the claimants' legal costs and other fees.
The Volkswagen Group said that it would once again “sincerely apologise” to their customers for the “two mode software” installed in its vehicles fitted with EA189 diesel engines and said that it would “continue to work to rebuild the trust of their customers here in England and Wales”.
Philip Haarmann, Volkswagen AG chief legal officer, said : "The Volkswagen Group is pleased that we have been able to conclude this long running litigation in England and Wales. The settlement is another important milestone as the Volkswagen Group continues to move beyond the deeply regrettable events leading up to September 2015."
Slater and Gordon chief executive David Whitmore said: "At Slater and Gordon, we are passionate about securing the best possible outcome for our customers, and I am immensely proud of this result.
“Over the last five years, Slater and Gordon have rightly dedicated a significant and unwavering commitment to this case, providing an expert voice to a round 70,000 claimants.
“The settlement avoids the need for a lengthy, complex and expensive trial process and we are delighted to have achieved this settlement for our customers as a result of the group action."
'Victory' for affected owners
Lead Solicitors at Leigh Day Bozena Michalowska and Shazia Yamin said: "We are pleased that Volkswagen has repeated its sincere apology for the use of the prohibited two mode software.
"We are delighted that this case has finally been settled for our clients and the claimants in the NOx emissions litigation.
“We have been unwavering in our belief in our clients' case, that is why we have fought long and hard for this outcome. We are clear that it was in the interest of our clients to settle this early."