British VW drivers invited to join 'Dieselgate' legal action

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London (AFP)

British drivers were on Thursday given the chance to join collective legal action against German carmaker Volkswagen over the emissions-cheating "Dieselgate" scandal.

London's High Court recommended a Group Litigation Order "to manage the thousands of legal claims being brought against VW", said law firm Leigh Day which is representing 1,850 UK drivers.

The firm will work alongside solicitors from Slater and Gordon, which has already amassed 40,000 clients in the case, and both legal teams have urged other drivers to come forward.

Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 that it installed software in 11 million cars worldwide that reduced emissions of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) when it detected the vehicle was undergoing tests.

The Dieselgate scandal affected 1.2 million Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen vehicles in Britain, meaning the case could become the largest consumer action in UK legal history.

"It has been two years since the scandal broke and the only thing that VW has offered UK consumers is a fix that our clients have told us doesn?t work," said Gareth Pope, a litigation lawyer at Slater and Gordon.

"Now those consumers have the chance to hold VW to account for their deceit and will finally have their day in court," he added.

Volkswagen has already agreed to a multi-billion settlement with the US authorities and owners of affected vehicles, but the company has said it will fight the UK legal action.

"We intend to defend these claims robustly and are confident of a successful outcome," a Volkswagen spokesperson said, stating the software has not been proven illegal in the UK and many cars had been fixed.

"We have implemented the technical measures in over 840,000 vehicles in the UK and in over 6.4 million vehicles across Europe, and the overwhelming majority of customers with these vehicles are satisfied," they added.