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Mercedes appear in High Court over latest ‘dieselgate’ case

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Hundreds of thousands of Mercedes drivers took the car manufacturer to High Court this week in the latest legal fight over the emissions scandal.

The two-day hearing is the first time Mercedes has appeared in the English courts following the alleged fraudulent attempts to cheat emissions tests by fitting prohibited ‘defeat devices’ in their vehicles.

A defeat device allows a vehicle to pass regulatory tests as a low emission producing vehicle, hiding the true extent of the levels of harmful pollutants being omitted into the air in normal use.

A group of law firms, including Leigh Day and Pogust Goodhead, have asked the court to grant a group litigation order, which will allow all those who acquired an affected Mercedes vehicle to unite in one case against the car manufacturer.

Leigh Day, representing clients in relation to more than 45,000 claims, and Pogust Goodhead, who are representing over 75,000 owners, are also asking the court to appoint the two firms as the lead solicitors of the case, as requested by the group of law firms known as the proposed steering committee.

This is the latest hearing connected to the vehicle emissions scandals since the High Court ruled in favour of thousands of consumers bringing claims against Volkswagen in relation to a ‘defeat device’ on some of its diesel cars in 2020.

Several leading vehicle manufacturers have been accused of fitting 'defeat' devices to their vehicles to cheat the EU and UK emissions laws. Law firms believe thousands of UK vehicle owners have been affected by this and are eligible to receive compensation.

Martyn Day, senior partner at Leigh Day, said: “This is the largest consumer group claim to come before the English courts and impacts hundreds of thousands of people who have purchased or leased a Mercedes vehicle thinking it was more environmentally friendly than it actually is.

“We believe Mercedes willingly misled its customers and these claimants have a right of compensation against the car manufacturer. The most effective way to go about this is for claims to proceed as a group; it allows the law firms to collaborate and co-ordinate the claims on behalf of their respective client cohorts to hold Mercedes to account.”

Pete Gallagher, of Pogust Goodhead, said: “This is a significant legal milestone in the ongoing fight to seek justice in the ‘dieselgate scandal’, which has detrimentally affected millions of owners and created illegal levels of air pollution. Emissions are proven to create significant public health problems, with long-term exposure being attributed to cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, lung cancer and reduced life expectancy.

“Along with the positive movements made with the first hearing of the Clean Air Bill, we believe this legal case will not only deliver justice for all our clients who were misled by Mercedes, but it will continue to push the dial in the right direction to secure the public’s right to breathing clean air.”

According the defendants they say the claims against them are 'without merit'. A defendant spokesperson said: “The hearing concerns a Group Litigation Order (GLO) application that was filed at the High Court. The application is a procedural step to consolidate individual claims that claimant law firms have filed to date. We believe that the claims are without merit and will vigorously defend ourselves against them or any group action with the necessary legal means.”


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