High Court rules Volkswagen did install unlawful defeat devices

April 7, 2020

Volkswagen breached European emissions rules by installing unlawful “defeat devices” in diesel cars, the High Court ruled yesterday.

In an important ruling for UK motorists in their class action against Volkswagen, Mr Justice Waksman also found that the High Court is bound by the German transport regulator’s finding that the software installed was a defeat device.

Gareth Shires of Exchange Chambers is instructed by SPG Law to deal with all aspects of the litigation. He is also instructed by the Steering Committee, a group of the three firms with the largest number of clients, to represent all of the claimants as part of a larger counsel team.

SPG Law is acting for over 16,000 car owners who bought a diesel VW, Audi, Skoda or Seat car between 2008 and 2015.  There are a total of 91,000 car owners across all claimant firms and it has been estimated that around 1.2 million vehicles containing the “defeat device” have been supplied to purchasers in the UK.

Commenting on yesterday’s judgment, Gareth Shires said:

“Yesterday’s ruling is a significant step forward in holding Volkswagen to account in the UK.

“In rejecting VW’s arguments, the judge found that the software function in UK vehicles did indeed amount to a prohibited defeat device, as has been previously admitted by VW to US regulators.

“With the exception of Skoda and SEAT vehicles, the judge also ruled that VW’s attempt to relitigate an issue previously decided by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority was an abuse of process.

“This is a significant judgment because it is the first time that a European court has made such detailed findings on the defeat device issue. Although questions of liability and loss remain live, this judgment brings the claimants significantly closer to recovering compensation arising out of VW’s misconduct.”

Tony Winterburn, Head of Consumer Protection Litigation at SPG Law and the Senior Solicitor with conduct of the litigation on behalf of SPG’s clients commented:

“The judgment yesterday is an important step on the road to our clients recovering the compensation they are entitled to and also on VW being held accountable for its actions”.