Legal action launched to fight for 70,000 Northern Ireland drivers in VW emissions scandal

Volkswagen Passat car is tested for exhaust emissions
Volkswagen Passat car is tested for exhaust emissions

UP to 70,000 Northern Ireland drivers impacted by the Volkswagen emissions scandal could potentially be in line for compensation following the launch of a landmark legal action.

Belfast law firm Edwards and Co Solicitors has formally issued proceedings in the High Court in Belfast on behalf of clients affected by the 2015 scandal, when the German car-maker admitted 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide – including 1.2 million in the UK – were fitted with software to cheat emissions tests.

VW has subsequently become involved in lawsuits in several countries and has already agreed a $15 billion (£12 billion) settlement with US authorities and owners of affected vehicles.

Edwards & Co are the first solicitors in Northern Ireland to take on the global automotive giants in order to secure compensation for consumers who were purchased premium priced vehicles that were promoted as ‘clean diesel’.

In September 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that Volkswagen Group had manufactured diesel vehicles which were fitted with software designed to circumvent strict NOx (the gas relevant to producing air pollution) emission regulations.

In effect the ‘defeat’ device was a cheat rather than a solution to reducing NOx emissions and so Volkswagen were found in violation of the Clean Air Act.

This legal action follows several months preparing the claims and liaising with the lead solicitors in London who are running the cases in that jurisdiction.

Dorcas Crawford, senior partner at Edwards and Co Solicitors, said: “In the context of this truly global dispute, we wanted to ensure that the rights of our current clients, and Northern Ireland consumers in general, were not left behind - hence the issue of proceedings today.

"We are pursuing the Volkswagen Group, and a number of its subsidiaries, in the Northern Ireland High Court, in what will ultimately proceed as a Group Action. This will enable us to represent all those affected within the framework of one case."

She added: “To assist those wishing to claim we have launched a dedicated website at which makes it simple to check whether you own an affected vehicle and, if so, to register your potential claim.

"The website contains detailed information on all aspects of the case and we urge anyone who thinks they may have been affected to get in touch.”

Cars which are likely to have been affected include 1.2 litre, 1.6 litre or 2.0 litre diesel engines made between 2009 and 2015 by Volkswagen, Audi, Seat or Skoda.