Diesel drivers could see huge impact from landmark High Court emissions scandal hearing this week

Car exhaust

The hearing is expected to take place later this week

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 05/12/2023

- 10:58

Updated: 05/12/2023

- 11:11

The cases involve 'unprecedented' numbers of claimants, law firms and vehicle manufacturers

A landmark High Court case will be heard later this week with more than one million drivers’ legal claims being heard in relation to the diesel emissions scandal.

On Friday, December 8, a hearing at the High Court will co-ordinate the legal claims of more than a million UK vehicle owners.

The legal action being set out is against 13 major vehicle manufacturers who are alleged to have been involved in the diesel emissions scandal.

This claims that manufacturers intentionally cheated emissions tests by using so-called “defeat devices” in their vehicles, which are prohibited.

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When in operation, these devices would disable emissions controls under real-world driving conditions and mislead emissions testing.

The cases involve “unprecedented” numbers of claimants, law firms and vehicle manufacturers.

In an unusual move, the High Court announced that it would call a one-day hearing to simplify the management of the claims to reduce costs and delays to all parties.

It also aims to ensure efficient use of the court’s resources and to ensure the issues raised are resolved fairly and efficiently.

Martyn Day, senior partner at Leigh Day, commented on the legal action and how drivers may be able to get compensation depending on the outcome.

He said: “This unprecedented High Court hearing illustrates the significance and scale of the vehicle emissions claims; the largest consumer group actions ever brought before the English courts.

“Together, the law firms bringing the claims represent more than a million people who purchased or leased a diesel vehicle believing it was more environmentally friendly than it really was.

“Leigh Day is committed to working collaboratively to bring the claims to a conclusion as quickly and efficiently as possible so that manufacturers are held to account and owners get the compensation they deserve.”

At present, the claims against each manufacturer are running independently, with the court believing there may be an overlap between some of the legal, factual and technical issues.

Pete Gallagher, of Pogust Goodhead, said it was “high time” the manufacturers involved in the litigation were held to account eight years since the initial emissions scandal broke.

He added: “The vast scale of the cases speaks to the extent of the manufacturers’ misconduct and the very real grievance felt by car owners at being misled as to the true environmental impact of the cars they acquired.

“We urge the car manufacturers to do the right thing and reach swift settlements so that justice can be served without the need for the Court and the parties to use up huge resources in bringing the cases to a conclusion.

“We are committed to working with all parties to ensure prompt and fair access to justice and compensation for our clients in these claims.”

Leigh Day will bring proceedings against nine manufacturers, while Pogust Goodhead will bring claims against all 13 manufacturer groups.


Car exhaust

The diesel emissions scandal first broke eight years ago


The hearing will be held before the President of the Kings Bench Division, Dame Victoria Sharp as well as High Court judges Mrs Justice Cockerill and Mr Justice Constable and Senior Master Cook.

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