The Volkswagen NOx emissions group litigation settled yesterday for £193m – some £2,120 for each of the 91,000 claimants.
VW has also paid an undisclosed sum in costs and other fees and Legal Futures has been told that this bumps up the average payout to around £3,000 per claimant.
The terms and conditions of the settlement are confidential but VW has made no admissions in respect of liability, causation or loss.
The case was due to go to trial next January, eight years after work on possible claims began. VW said the legal costs of litigating the case to a six-month trial, plus any appeals, made settlement “the most prudent course of action commercially”.
Slater & Gordon – which has 71,000 of the claimants – and Leigh Day were the court-appointed co-lead solicitors, while PGMBM, representing 15,000 claimants, joined them on the claimant steering committee.
In a preliminary issues ruling in April 2020, the High Court decided that VW tried to cheat clean air regulations by using a so-called defeat device installed on 1.2m VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT diesel vehicles with EA189 engines to trick compliance tests. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal.
In a statement, the Volkswagen Group said it would, “once again, like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to their customers for the two mode software installed in the EA189 vehicles”.
It continued: “The Volkswagen Group will continue to work to rebuild the trust of their customers here in England & Wales. This settlement represents an important further stage in that process.”
Slater & Gordon chief executive David Whitmore said: “The settlement avoids the need for a lengthy, complex and expensive trial process and achieves a financial result that is fair and right for all claimants.”
Slater & Gordon’s cases have been backed since 2016 by third-party funder Therium Capital Management. It is not clear whether the settlement includes VW paying funders’ fees or whether they will come from claimants’ damages.
The settlement is far from the end of the road for emissions litigation against VW – as other engine models are the subject of claims too – while several other car manufacturers are also in the crosshairs, such as Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Vauxhall, Ford, Citroen, Peugeot, Renault, Nissan, Skoda, Jaguar, Volvo, Hyundai and Land Rover.
Leigh Day alone said it currently represented over 125,000 car owners in all.