Senior judge convenes special hearing to manage flood of Dieselgate claims

Representatives of more than 20 claimant law firms are expected to attend a High Court hearing tomorrow (8 November) to explore how the many Dieselgate group actions making their way through the courts can be effectively managed.

The unusual hearing, called by King’s Bench Division (KBD) president Dame Victoria Sharp, will assemble advisers involved in 15 group actions against multiple diesel vehicle manufacturers accused of deploying ‘defeat devices’ to circumvent emissions testing rules. 

The stated purpose of the hearing is to “actively manage” emissions cases, according to the Collective Redress Lawyers Association (CORLA), whose co-president, David Greene, welcomed a “pragmatic and sensible move by the court”.

Greene, senior partner of London firm Edwin Coe and a former Law Society of England and Wales president, added: “It will hopefully lead to the court process being expedited and allow consumers to exercise their rights and access justice more easily. It may also focus manufacturers’ minds, encouraging them to approach this issue with the interests of their customers at heart.”

To date, one group claim has been settled and the High Court has granted two further group litigation orders (GLOs). In May 2022, Volkswagen, advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, agreed to pay out £193m in a case involving 91,000 legal claims, leading to more than £2,100 per claimant payouts.

In May this year a GLO was granted to a steering committee of firms representing 300,000 claims against Mercedes-Benz, advised by Herbert Smith Freehills. The claimant firms comprise Pogust Goodhead, Leigh Day, Hausfeld, Keller Postman, Slater & Gordon and Milberg.

Last month, Leigh Day and Pogust Goodhead were appointed lead solicitors for a second GLO, this time against BMW, which Hogan Lovells and Addleshaw Goddard represent.

According to CORLA, there are 326 separate claim forms open or served with the court involving manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Vauxhall, Nissan, Renault, VW, Peugeot, Citroen, Jaguar, Land Rover, Ford, BMW, FCA/Suzuki, Volvo, Hyundai, Kia, Porsche, Toyota and Mazda.

Joining Sharp on the bench for Friday’s hearing will be Mrs Justice Cockerill, Mr Justice Constable and Senior Master Cook, the senior master of the KBD.

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