Claimants in the ’dieselgate’ group claim against motor manufacturers today hailed a judgment by the president of the King’s Bench Division setting an aggressive court timetable for the action. In Various claimants v Mercedes Benz Group & Ors Dame Victoria Sharp and three other judges ruled that a three-day consolidated hearing in the claim would open on 17 January. The decision followed a case management hearing last Friday.
The unprecedented group litigation order, over the installation of ‘cheat devices’ in diesel vehicles, involves potentially more than 1 million claimants and 1,500 defendants.
Welcoming the ruling, David Greene, co-president of the Collectitve Redress Lawyers Association, said: ‘It is good to see the High Court taking hold of this set of group actions to ensure it moves forward speedily and sensibly. Group claims benefit from good case management and that is what we have seen today on the emission cases.’
Tom Goodhead, managing partner at claimant firm Pogust Goodhead, which represents the largest number of claimants, said: ‘This judgment means 2024 will be a year of reckoning for any manufacturer that cheated emissions tests. Investors in these companies should be very nervous. If these cases go to trial, the manufacturers face a huge financial hit, with devastating consequences for the used car market, too. It is time for all car companies that cheated emissions tests to do the right thing by drivers who bought their cars in good faith and offer them fair compensation.’
Martyn Day, senior partner at national firm Leigh Day, said: ‘I am pleased that the High Court is clearly looking to move the emission claims at a reasonable pace. The defendants’ main ambition seems to be to delay wherever they can.’ He predicted that the decision ‘will ensure that the claims as a whole are likely to be resolved in the next couple of years’.
The judgment, handed down on Monday night and posted on National Archives today, sets a trial date for Mercedes and two other manufacturers in February 2025. The January hearing will decide which two other companies cases will be heard at the same time. Two other hearings in 2024 will ensure all parties keep to the schedule.