Irish owners taking action against Volkswagen emissions scandal

More than 800 motorists have now contacted an Irish solicitor’s firm representing claimants over the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

The Irish Examiner understands O’Dwyer Solicitors in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo has been contacted by over 800 motorists and the firm expects more in the future. The firm declined to comment.

The firm was granted a court order for discovery by Judge Mary Devins in Castlebar District Court in June last year, becoming the first in Europe to have a case relating to the global Volkswagen emissions scandal heard in court.

The scandal arose in September 2015 when the German motor giant admitted it had fitted ‘cheat software’ to 11 million vehicles which disguised the extent of the harmful nitrogen oxide emissions produced by its cars.

The latest Irish figures come as British law firm Harcus Sinclair UK said yesterday it had launched legal action in Britain against Volkswagen, seeking thousands of pounds of compensation each for British drivers affected.

The German company is involved in lawsuits in several countries and is racing to resolve criminal and civil allegations with the US Department of Justice after admitting it cheated diesel emissions tests. FBI had arrested a Volkswagen executive on charges of conspiracy to defraud the US, underscoring how the company is still struggling to move on from the scandal 16 months after it erupted.

In Britain, Europe’s second-biggest car market, 1.2 million cars are affected and Harcus Sinclair UK, which is being supported by Slater and Gordon, said about 10,000 drivers had already signed up to the legal action before the launch yesterday.

The firm will pursue a group action, the nearest British equivalent of a US class action, at the High Court and is asking other drivers affected to come forward and join the case.

Volkswagen has been hit hard in Britain since the scandal erupted in 2015, with sales of its VW brand cars down 7.5% in 2016 despite the overall market rising by over 2% to hit a record high.

The first hearing in the group action case in the UK is due to take place on January 30, a spokeswoman for Harcus Sinclair UK said.

A spokesman for Volkswagen said the company would robustly defend itself in the UK case and said it did not believe customers would lose out due to the scandal.

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