Emissions cheating case against car industry reveals legal bill to defend action

June 14, 2024
London traffic showing diesel cars

Lawyers defending unprecedented legal action against the car industry over emissions cheating have revealed in court the estimated costs of defending the claims are an eye-watering £320 million in legal fees.

Claims on behalf of 1.5 million claimants are continuing against 13 car manufacturers including Mercedes, Renault, and Ford.

The defendants for Nissan, BMW, Suzuki, Peugeot Citroën, Fiat Chrysler and Vauxhall have all admitted that their lawyers’ hourly rates included in their budgets are in fact lower than the actual rates they charge.

Lawyers acting for claimants in England and Wales have also estimated that going forward, the common legal costs associated with bringing the action on behalf of 1.5 million motorists could reach £219 million. This is an estimated cost of £146 per claimant.

They say this is what it costs to hold accountable an entire industry over a scandal which has contributed heavily to a public health crisis across the UK.  

Emissions cheating scandal

The Dieselgate scandal broke in 2015 in the US, when VW was found to be cheating emissions tests.

In June 2022, Pogust Goodhead successfully represented claimants in the Volkswagen NOx Emissions Group Litigation. We reached a first-of-its-kind, out-of-court UK settlement of £193M.   

However, the fight for justice and cleaner air is far from over.  

The Pan NOx cases, as they are known, continued this week, with a three-day High Court hearing on costs, after the court handed down a judgment rejecting claims from French car companies Peugeot Citroën and Renault that they could not cooperate with the legal case against them because of a French law.  

Pogust Goodhead comment

“The hearing has laid out the fact that this class action is likely to be the most expensive class action in the UK courts to date. The car manufacturers are spending millions of pounds defending the indefensible.

“Their investors ought to be troubled by the huge sums involved in taking these matters to trial which is only compounding the risk and delaying the inevitable. Unfortunately, this is what it costs to take an entire industry to court and hold them accountable.

“We urge the companies to do the right thing and reach swift settlements so that justice can be served without the need for the court and all parties using up huge resources in bringing the cases to conclusion.”

Pogust Goodhead is the lead or co-lead law firm in the largest number of emissions cases.

*The figure initially advised as the Defendant costs was provided in error and has since been corrected (June 18, 2024)

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