Thousands of British VW owners seek compensation following emissions saga

VW has admitted using computer software to cheat emissions tests and recalled millions of cars.

A street sign can be seen in front of the illuminated logo of German car maker Volkswagen (VW) on 10 December, 2015 in Hanover, central Germany. Picture: AFP.

LONDON – Thousands of British Volkswagen owners are seeking compensation following the emissions rigging scandal.

Lawyers say 10,000 people have already expressed an interest in suing VW, and estimate owners could get tens of thousands of rand in compensation.

A number of law firms are applying for a group litigation order this month.

VW has admitted using computer software to cheat emissions tests and recalled millions of cars.

The legal action seeks compensation for anyone who owns or has previously owned a Volkswagon Diesel.

The case centres around allegations that the affected cars should not have been certified as fit for sale, and only passed official emissions test because of the defeat devices fitted to them.

VW says it will “defend such claims robustly” but many more owners are now expected to come forward.

In December, the European Union began legal action against Germany, Britain and five other member states for failing to police emissions test cheating by carmakers after the Volkswagen diesel scandal.

Amid mounting frustration in Brussels over what EU officials see as governments colluding with the powerful car industry, the European Commission wielded its biggest available stick in an attempt to force nations to clamp down on diesel cars spewing health-harming nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution.

German officials - who say EU law is poorly framed - had expected Brussels to stop short of confronting the EU’s leading power and by far its biggest car manufacturer, at a time when the unity of the bloc is being challenged by eurosceptics and Britain’s vote to leave.

Germany, Britain, Spain and Luxembourg stand accused of failing to impose the kind of penalties Volkswagen has faced in the United States over its use of illegal “defeat device” software to mask real-world NOx emissions blamed for respiratory illnesses and early deaths.

Reacting to the announcement, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said: “Germany is the only European country to have implemented a comprehensive list of measures to prevent unauthorised use of defeat devices.”

Britain enacted legislation to tackle emissions test manipulations in 2009, a spokesman for its transport ministry said.

The Commission also accuses Berlin and London of refusing to share the details of suspicious findings revealed by national investigations into the “dieselgate” scandal, without which it cannot carry out a supervisory role.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)