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High Court judge urges speedier progress on Dieselgate legal action


Dieselgate legal claims could be accelerated with increased co-operation between law firms, advised a High Court judge. Mrs Justice Cockerill urged the legal teams involved in multiple legal claims over the diesel vehicle emissions scandal to “break down” formal legal processes to ensure the claims progress speedily. 


She ruled that the legal claim against Ford will go forward as an additional lead claim alongside Mercedes, which was designated as the primary lead claim at a previous hearing in December. 

The judge’s comments on how to progress the claims more quickly came during the third day of hearings at the High Court from Wednesday 17 to Friday 19 January - the latest in the claims by more than 1.2 million vehicle owners against 16 major car manufacturing groups alleged to have used prohibited ‘defeat devices’ to cheat emissions tests.


On Friday the judge made the ruling on the Ford claim and deferred a decision on appointing one or two more additional lead claims involving other manufacturers until March. Once appointed, the lead claims will proceed ahead of the other claims to help the court determine the legal issues across all the claims and streamline the overall process. 


On 17 and 18 January, Senior Master Cook heard applications for Group Litigation Orders (“GLOs”) in claims against Vauxhall/Opel, Volkswagen/Porsche, Peugeot/Citroën/DS, JLR, Renault/Nissan and Volvo. Following those hearings Senior Master Cook indicated that GLOs would be made in all 6 claims. The contents of those GLOs were agreed in Renault/Nissan and JLR. Judgment on the remainder of the claims, where the content of the GLOs still needs to be determined will be handed down at a later date. GLOs have already been granted for the Mercedes, BMW, FCA/Suzuki and Ford cases. GLO applications in the Hyundai-Kia, Toyota and Mazda cases are likely to be stayed. 

A further five-day Case Management Conference (CMC) hearing will be held at the High Court from 11-15 March 2024, with a first trial involving Mercedes potentially taking place in February 2025. 


The law firms representing vehicle owners include Leigh Day, which is bringing proceedings against nine of the manufacturer groups. 


Martyn Day, Senior Partner at Leigh Day, said: “This hearing represents further positive progress in the diesel emissions claims, and I am pleased to see the High Court looking to speed up the pace of proceedings and not allow them to be held up by technicalities.

 

“The decision to designate Ford as an additional lead claim, to run alongside the main claim against Mercedes, will help streamline the process and allow these cases to progress more swiftly, which is good news for more than a million vehicle owners. 


“With a first trial over defeat devices potentially taking place in February next year, we could see all the lead cases determined in 2025 which we hope will lead to all the claims being resolved in the next two years.”

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