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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

VW emissions - latest news from US and UK


Date: 11-Jan-2017

It has recently been reported in the USA that VW executives knew about emissions cheating two months before the scandal broke, but chose not to tell US regulators, according to court papers.

The bosses involved include Oliver Schmidt, who was in charge of VW's US environmental regulatory compliance office from 2012 until March 2015 and earlier this week he was charged with conspiracy to defraud and has been detained pending a hearing. Volkswagen has said it cannot comment on an "ongoing" legal matter.

A complaint to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against VW at the end of 2016  accuses the carmaker of deliberately misleading regulators about cheating US pollution tests by means of so-called "defeat devices". 

Meanwhile, in the UK, the BBC has reported on a legal firm who is aware of 10,000 VW owners who have expressed an interest in suing VW. They estimated that owners could get "several thousand" pounds in compensation.  One firm, Harcus Sinclair, is applying for a group litigation order - which is similar to a US class action lawsuit - in the High Court later this month.  The legal action is aimed at securing compensation for people who own or have previously owned one of the vehicles.  In the UK around 1.2 million diesel engine cars are potentially affected by the emissions scandal.

Harcus Sinclair said it was basing its estimate of the level of compensation owners could get on the €5,000 (£4,300) per owner awarded in Spain and the $8-10,000 awarded in the US.

"The key allegation is that the affected cars should not have been certified as fit for sale because it is alleged that they produced higher levels of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions than the rules allowed," it said in a statement.

Seventy-seven current or former VW owners have put their names to Harcus Sinclair's application for a group litigation order which will be heard in the High Court on 30 January.

The firm hopes that the marketing and publicity surrounding this launch will encourage more drivers to sign up to the action.  It added it was also talking to other law firms about joining forces with them, in an effort to avoid cost duplication.

If the High Court gives the action the go-ahead, a pre-trial hearing will follow and then the trial itself in about 18 months.

In a statement, VW said: "We have been notified that Harcus Sinclair intends to bring proceedings against Volkswagen on behalf of 77 claimants in the English High Court.

"We intend to defend such claims robustly," it added.

Another law firm, Leigh Day, said it had been approached by about 10,000 VW owners regarding the emissions issue.  However, the company said it wanted to avoid the "cost risk associated with pursuing the matter through the courts".  Instead, it had submitted some test cases to the dispute resolution body, the Motor Ombudsman.

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