/ Motoring

How can VW be held to account for the dieselgate scandal?

Three years ago it emerged that VW was cheating on emissions tests by fitting ‘defeat devices’ to their diesel vehicles, unbeknown to consumers. Why has VW failed to pay any compensation to those affected in the UK, despite doing so in other countries?

This is a guest article by Gareth Pope, Lawyer at Slater & Gordon. The views expressed here are not necessarily also shared by Which?.

The VW emissions scandal rocked the industry, with more than 114,000 people backing Which?’s campaign to Come Clean on Fuel Claims after the story broke.

Despite VW facing criminal charges in the United States and having paid a 1 billion Euro fine in Germany, the DVSA and The Department for Transport have shown no desire to take action for the car giant’s deceit.

Consumers have been left with only one real option to see VW held to account and obtain any redress: join the group civil action now afoot. But while around 80,000 have signed up there are potentially 1.2 million affected car owners – and time is running out.

Will the government act?

While the British Government has adopted the European emissions standards, it never adopted the part of the regulations which would allow British regulators to enforce those standards.

This means that, unlike in Germany where the regulator has handed out a billion Euro fine, British regulators are toothless and unable to respond even though VW may have broken the rules.

And means that drivers who purchased their cars in England and Wales must enforce the rules themselves through the Courts.

Taking action

In March 2018 the High Court granted a group litigation order, which means that all of the individual cases for all VW drivers are to be heard together at the same time.

This is a David and Goliath battle between thousands of individual VW drivers and one of the largest car makers in the world. Slater and Gordon and Leigh Day have been appointed by the Court  asthe Joint Lead Solicitors in the action, which hopes to achieve justice for affected consumers.

Who’s eligible?

Current and former owners of affected diesel VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT vehicles purchased in England and Wales between 2008 and 1 January 2016 can join the claim.

You may also join the claim even if you purchased on finance, sold your car or if you have had the ‘fix’ done to remove the ‘defeat’ software from your vehicle.

Want to get involved? The Court deadline for joining the action is looming as you have to be signed up by 26 October 2018. You can join the claim here.

This is a guest article by Gareth Pope, Lawyer at Slater & Gordon. The views expressed here are not necessarily also shared by Which?.

Were you affected by the scandal? If so, are you now looking to take action? Do you think UK consumers should be compensated, as they were in other countries?

Comments
Patrick Taylor says:
20 September 2018

I mentioned previously about German state support for VW and this apparently included a 2010 visit by Angela Merkel to California to complain about the strict emissions policy of the state. I do wonder about the idiocy of VW even selling diesels there given the small market for diesels – apart from the logical inference that it also was in breach elsewhere OR they really thought no one would notice.

And in case you missed it in January:
Jan. 25, 2018

FRANKFURT — In 2014, as evidence mounted about the harmful effects of diesel exhaust on human health, scientists in an Albuquerque laboratory conducted an unusual experiment: Ten monkeys squatted in airtight chambers, watching cartoons for entertainment as they inhaled fumes from a diesel Volkswagen Beetle.

German automakers had financed the experiment in an attempt to prove that diesel vehicles with the latest technology were cleaner than the smoky models of old. But the American scientists conducting the test were unaware of one critical fact: The Beetle provided by Volkswagen had been rigged to produce pollution levels that were far less harmful in the lab than they were on the road. The results were being deliberately manipulated.”
nytimes.com/2018/01/25/world/europe/volkswagen-diesel-emissions-monkeys.html

” ……. But legal proceedings and government records show that Volkswagen and other European automakers were also engaged in a prolonged, well-financed effort to produce academic research that they hoped would influence political debate and preserve tax privileges for diesel fuel.”

Fred Blogs says:
22 September 2018

VW are one of the best car companies in the world. They are wrong to poorly describe fuel economy figures but they are still amongst the best cars on the market. If you do not agree don’t buy one of these high quality vehicles . Most of all stop bleeting! . You buy a car because it is what you need .

Andrew Martin says:
31 May 2019

Yes VW are so clever that they can’t design a competitive engine without installing illegal software to disguise the health damage that it causes.

The main point you seem to miss is that people were deliberately deceived into buying these cars.

As for high quality. Don’t make me laugh. They are ordinary cars, blinged up and flogged with the help of massive advertising budgets, and like the dumb sheep we are we buy them by the million. I’ve owned 2 and I’ve learnt a very expensive lesson and won’t be fooled again.

Julian Brook says:
23 September 2018

How do I claim if I bought my car in Scotland? Slater & Gordon only act for cars bought in England & Wales

Julian – I will give you the biggest Scottish solicitor dealing with many 100,s of Scots VW car owners , I hope in this case Which ? will excuse any advertising as Julian asked me for this Thomsons solicitors read https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15181197.Video___VW_faces___5_million_legal_claim_in_biggest_ever_Scots_class_action_over_emissions_scandal/ the Herald is a Scottish upmarket newspaper here is their website with all the contact details (freephone ) https://www.thompsons-scotland.co.uk/news/13-thompsons-press-releases/2525-vw-emission-claims remember Scottish law is different from English law. Best of luck !

Julian – Because the introduction of group legal actions in Scotland has not been finalised, there does not yet seem to be a lead solicitor appointed by the Court.

Slater & Gordon and Leigh Day are the lead solicitors appointed by the High Court to act for the owners of cars bought in England & Wales but other firms can also represent owners under the group legal action.

Thompsons [see above] seem to be representing around 250 clients. Several other Scottish law firms are also competing for the business and can be found on-line. Slater & Gordon have an Edinburgh office and can represent Scottish owners. Leigh Day do not have a Scottish office.

The correct jurisdiction is that covering the place where the car was bought. It is advisable to approach a law firm with experience in the law of the appropriate jurisdiction.

John-Thomsons do not have 250 clients they have over 800 and counting , they are also the MAIN solicitors in Scotland representing Scots on this issue . Next they started this action way back in -2015 I read Scottish newspapers . If you think different name a Scottish lawyer with more client on this issue ? Patrick Mc Guire of Thomsons is the lead lawyer . Again if you know different please let me know ? Its admitted that Thomsons are further ahead in the running than other lawyers in Scotland https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/hundreds-scots-affected-emissions-scandal-9590122

Yes, sorry Duncan – my mistake. The Thompsons press release to which you provided a link said the firm represented 400 car owners. The article in The Herald said they represented over 800 with 400 claims with other solicitors. I don’t know where I got the figure of 250 from – I might have read it in an earlier article or document. Obviously the number has been growing strongly. I don’t know why you are getting shirty with me – it was an innocent error and it didn’t contradict any other number quoted in the Conversation.

I don’t dispute that Mr McGuire is the the leading lawyer in Scotland on this action but so far as I could tell the Court of Sessions has not yet appointed an official Lead Solicitor practice.

Sorry if I appear shirty John its not meant – I apologize .

James Leese (gentle driver) says:
23 September 2018

I owned a Skoda Octavia vRS Estate 2.0 TDI CR 170PS (6 speed manual) from new in December 2010 until April 2018 when I traded it in for another VW group car because my motoring requirement had changed. I obtained a trade in value of £8500. The car was used predominantly for long trip motoring (which is why I bought a diesel estate) I will confess, I did not take emissions into account back then – who did? However, with sensible driving it comfortably returned in excess of 60 mpg – pretty good, even for a diesel. The results were displayed by the on-board computer and checked arithmetically, by reference to the miles covered between refuelling and volume of fuel purchased and were always close enough to raise no concerns. This assumes the odometer shows the correct mileage and that the fuel pumps dispense the stated volume. The car performed as expected at all times.

In January 2017 the ‘cheating’ fix was carried out by the dealer who supplied the vehicle. When I asked if I would notice any difference in performance after the ‘fix’, the service manager said ‘You might notice slightly slower acceleration after 70 mph and the mpg might go down a bit’. This proved correct in respect of acceleration (although I do not admit to breaking the national speed limit on the public highway) and the mpg decreased to around 56 – still pretty good for a 2.0 diesel.

But…….less mpg means more pollution – no?

Incidentally, the replacement car is a Golf 1.5 TSI EVO 150PS, 7 speed DSG. It has returned an average in excess of 47 mpg from new (again checked arithmetically – VW must have tweaked the fuel consumption software because the results are even closer), covering short trip motoring (5 miles or less), medium distances of 15-20 miles and with the occasional trip of 50 miles or more.

That is my ‘real world’ experience, for what it is worth, and I will leave readers to decide why I will not be joining this action. I will not be engaging in any correspondence either.

I wonder how many people, when they have bought a car, know anything about NOx, how much is allowed and howe much their car might emit? As far as I can see it is not an advertised figure, unlike mpg and CO₂ that are determined under EU test conditions. And, as far as I can see, Which? give no figures for NOX in their car reviews, even though they test on the road.

@gmartin, evening George!
Are Which? suggesting that these manufacturers (forgetting VW’s particular cheat device debacle) have broken the law regarding emissions?

BMW, Daimler and VW Group to be investigated over possible emissions collusion EU looking into whether car manufacturers worked together to prevent consumers from being able to buy less-polluting cars
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/09/bmw-daimler-and-vw-group-to-be-investigated-over-possible-emissions-collusion/

Neil Cruickshank says:
26 September 2018

I bought a Seat Alhambra TDi, used, in January 2013. Do I have any claim?

David Watson says:
26 September 2018

Which? appears to be encouraging us to join the Slater Gordon action, but I have two queries:

First, the financial risk to owners is described as “negligible”. But if the case is lost, who is to say that the huge financial and legal might of VW might not successfully claim costs and damages in excess of the sum (which is not unlimited) available to meet this eventuality? Small risk, perhaps, but risk all the same.

Secondly, if I join the action, and it is successful, I will receive some sort of compensation less Slater Gorden’s fees. But what of those owners who have an equally valid claim, but maybe did not even know of the impending action? Will they get nothing, or will the success of the claim mean that all entitled owners will be compensated? With or without the deduction for fees?

Can anyone shed any light on these queries?

In reply to your second point David all those registered with Slater Gordon will get compensation , likewise if another lawyer is used their registered clients will receive compensation . Those that aren’t registered would need to apply for compensation . This is applied so that any person not taking part in an action and not contributing to the class action in any way cant take advantage of those that have unless legislation comes about that states all those having financial injuries relating to the action can claim without financial input. If you sue any company and lose they have the legal right to have their costs covered at least . To back up my point here is an extract from a big US attorney QUOTE-The losing side does not ordinarily have to pay the winning side’s attorney’s fees, contrary to popularly held belief. In the United States, the general rule (called the American Rule) is that each party pays only their own attorney’s fees, regardless of whether they win or lose. This allows people to bring cases and lawsuits without the fear of incurring excessive costs if they lose the case. In contrast, in England and other countries, the losing side is often required to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees after losing a trial. IF somebody loses an action brought by them then that party could be hit with the bill and it could end up with bailiffs calling in this country. Read https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/slater-and-gordon-plans-uk-closures-after-493m-losses/5053906.article

Well spotted Duncan.

Thanks Wavechange , while UK law in this regards looks the worse off compared to the US one thing must be taken into account , US attorneys in line with US law take a THIRD or more of the settlement , this is a big issue over there.

Legal protection insurance is one way we can deal with our potential claims. It is unlikely that an insurer will fund an action unless their is a good chance of winning. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing? I have never, though, had any action to pursue in this way.

As regards VW, the customers are only funding the action, it seems, if they win (35% of the compensation). It would, however, set a precedent for other affected owners if the action is successful so I would imagine, to forestall further legal action if VW lost, they might compensate others automatically. Is that a possibility?

Yes its possible malcolm as I have followed the whole process of the company dealing through the US government in providing forms to be filled in etc but you know the UK would HMG do the same as the US did ? There they applied pressure on the company to facilitate this action on behalf of US citizens . It requires a willingness on HMG,s part and as you know that hasn’t exactly been forthcoming . As I have said the company doesn’t rate the UK highly in terms of sales and don’t feel pressurized to comply . The news this week is that China has now surpassed the USA in terms of volume sales , on German television their exec. was a bit dismissive of this country .

David Watson says:
26 September 2018

Thanks for your reply, Duncan, from which I take it that an owner wanting compensation should join the action. If they don’t, they would have to take individual action against VW, since it is unlikely that legislation will be passed that requires compensation to be paid to those who have not applied for it.

Correct David I wish I could give you better news , in this country its up to the individual to join or not . This applies to many areas of English law in relation to suing and compensation, to me it favours the business world rather than the British citizen .

In cases of compensation I’d suggest it is a loss that is first determined when an action is proven, and this will differ from one individual to another. So if the claim involves extra fuel cost, that will depend upon mileage; if it is loss of value, that may depend upon age, condition, value of the particular vehicle; if expenses travelling to have a correction carried out, then distance and time involved.

On the other hand I imagine a class action will, if successful, decide a single amount for everyone involved (from which 35% is deducted).

So I don’t see this way of handling individual action as a deficiency in the law, nor favouring business, but ensuring appropriate compensation is awarded.

I am uncomfortable if the notion is not compensation (or not only), but a “penalty” payment . I believe, like fines, this sort of payment is one due to the state, whose job it is to exact penalties, not any individual’s.

Yes malcolm but as I pointed out HMG isn’t the US government who insisted that forms be filled in to decide individual compensation . Not so in this country, as it stands just now so your second paragraph is correct in applying to the UK. It certainly was a penalty plus compensation in the USA- penalty to the government -compensation to the US people.

As I’ve said before, i’m happy to see personal compensation awarded, plus compensation to the UK for any loss of VED and benefit in kind tax, plus a penalty for the transgression.

It’s all very well comparing the relief available through the courts in America and the UK but the two situations are not identical. If companies face higher payouts in the USA in the event of losing a class action that will find its way back into the prices of goods and vehicles, and we all know that it is impossible to make comparisons between the price of goods in America and the UK because the two markets are so different in scale, product characteristics, and consumer demand. The laws and legal systems are different too so that what might be a breach in one country might not regarded the same in the other. I am more interested to ensure that UK consumers are treated no worse than those in the rest of Europe but we never seem to get any information on that from Which?. Why is that?

For the same reason I get much info in the USA and zero here. John guess what country US law is based on —- British law . I have detracted info on UK secret services attacking and gathering info from a UK charity which investigates snooping on us as I am in contact with them my name will be on their data base . You think our authorities have the moral high ground ? laws are broken “legally ” depending on who you are. The basic principles of natural law apply equally that’s why so many British VW customers are so angry with the different treatment applied.

Emissions regulations in the USA are totally different from the EU’s and it is there; I believe, that the VW problem arose. Hence the penalty.

Thank you, Malcolm. We need to make sure that UK owners of VW cars understand that critical difference so they don’t harbour resentment at any perceived disparity of treatment.

I am not sure of the relevance of pointing out the origins of US laws. English common law and case law are shared up until American Independence, but from then on the USA has made all its own legislation in a federal and state context according to the constitutional structure and the separation of powers. American case law has also developed separately from then on. If they align it is a coincidence. Regulations concerning vehicle emissions have no foundations in the 18th century.

It has been demonstrated vigorously that the 1000,s of VW car owners in the UK are outraged at the treatment they have received in their own country amounting to arrogance and disdain and that they are not willing to accept this . So I ask the question –do the majority of the UK public accept the difference in treatment dished out to them by VW ? direct the reply to all VW owners , if you say-yes they do then who am I to fight against a majority ? but if it is the reverse then I stand by them to the end.

There are VW Group car owners here who have reported they are quite happy with their vehicles and the remedial work. Those who are not are free to pursue their claims.

I wonder why we have not seen the same demands for owners of Indesit/Whirlpool dryers whose lives were said to be directly at risk?

I think if any general action needs to be pursued – and it may be underway – it should be to recover any loss of VED and income tax revenue to the government together with a penalty for potential damage to health from excessive NOx emissions. The latter might be difficult to quantify.

I am all in favour of people being compensated [their choice – not compulsorily] if they have suffered actual loss or physical harm. But being deceived is not in either category. It is an outrage on society and society should have the benefit of any relief plus exact a penalty on the company’s directors, relevant senior managers, and shareholders [through devaluation of their stock by the reduction of profits and dividends]. Whether the German government has any liability would be an interesting question as well.

I’m not sure about who was deceived in practice. If the issue is NOx, this is not something an ordinary consumer would have considered when buying, as far as I know; the NOx figure is not advertised, is it? That doesn’t mean there has not been deceit; there clearly has. But it seems to me it was the regulatory authorities who approved the vehicle(s) for sale that were deceived, and they who should be exacting retribution.

If, however, the deceit was on CO₂ emissions (and thus mpg) then this would directly affect some consumers when they were making a choice of vehicle; the purpose of such figures is to allow comparisons to be made between vehicles on the same basis.

I expect that most people assume that products are manufactured according to current regulations and standards. Those who have bought cars that don’t comply have been deceived, in my opinion.

Quite right, Malcolm. This largely depends on how much time and effort we want put into grinding every issue down into fine dust and then identifying a person responsible for each grain. For instance, it could be argued that the regulatory authorities did not ensure an adequate method for detecting and preventing misuse of the testing process, but somewhere along the line, with audited quality assurance procedures presumably in place, we have to trust the honesty and integrity of major companies. VW itself was probably more deceived than any other body and has suffered massive costs and reputational damage. I have not kept closely in touch with this issue so I have not heard whether any internal disciplinary processes have led to any sanctions against personnel.

I agree with you, Wavechange. The question is, to what extent can, or should, we monetise deceit? In a consumer society there is an enormous amount of ‘deceit’ – but that doesn’t mean we have to take it for granted and put up with it. Appropriate regulations and consumer protection controls, exercised by society on behalf of individuals, are probably the best ways to mitigate it and deter further attempts.

Patrick Taylor says:
27 September 2018

JW – “VW itself was probably more deceived than any other body and has suffered massive costs and reputational damage. I have not kept closely in touch with this issue so I have not heard whether any internal disciplinary processes have led to any sanctions against personnel.”

I am rather shocked that you believe the original excuse from VW that the upper echelons of VW were unaware. However if you are not following the story then you are probably not aware of how it has moved on in the last year.

And yes people have been fired, resigned, and in the US jailed.
“A former Volkswagen executive has been sentenced to seven years in prison and a $400,000 (£298,778) fine, after admitting he helped the firm evade clean-air laws.
Oliver Schmidt, 48, is the second person to be imprisoned in the US over the diesel emissions scandal.”

Some criticise “business” as if they were the only perpetrators of deceit. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital? Contaminated blood and the NHS?….. Seems to me this is down to people rather then organisations. Is covering up dangerous personal and institutional failings and mistakes, preventing “correction”, not in a similar or worse league?

Patrick Taylor says:
27 September 2018

I dispute your contention that there has been no actual loss to VW diesel owners. I have posted that around 4,000 people have reported to their respective consumer bodies that their cars are not as good as they were following the fix.

I am going to accept that they probably are more aware than us non-owners of the effects on their motoring and the very probable loss of sale or trade-in value they are now subject to.

Just to answer malcolm’s query I remind you that according to a VW executive the cheat allowed the cars to pass the EU regime also.

I believe the debate about deceit and evasiveness in State and LA run institutions suggests that we tolerate too much sneakiness in general, but the problem is possibly exacerbated when you realise that Business does it simply to make more money. Those in the NHS and other state-run operations are normally engaging in these peccadilloes either to meet targets or to cover their own backs. That is, in effect, what separates the state-run from the privately owned.

Now, it’s perfectly possible to argue deceit of any sort is wrong, but it’s also possible to argue deceit in the pursuit of personal wealth is far worse than in simply attempting to avoid getting a bad report.

Patrick Taylor says:
27 September 2018

Without knowing how numerous and important “some” are it is hard to judge scale. Most people are aghast at any cover-ups or double dealing where ever it is practised. If we as a nation wish to improve matters then we need a meaningfull whistleblowing environment so that bad behaviour is both deterred in the first place and brought to light earlier if someone embarks on it.

The conduct of the Banks pre-2008 in silly lending, the abuse of the leasehold system, corrupt solicitors padding claims, conveyancers in league with developers, …..
I am sure there were people wanting to blow the whistle on these matters but no safe body well-known.

The CQC stitched up some whistleblowers about care homes and are not that good with hospitals. Nice way to keep the lid on things.
theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/22/there-were-hundreds-of-us-crying-out-for-help-afterlife-of-whistleblower
theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/06/nhs-whistleblowers-gagged-blacklisted-cqc-care-quality-commission
minhalexander.com/2017/06/22/cqc-involved-in-a-whistleblowers-referral-to-the-disclosure-barring-service/

Patrick Taylor says: Today 14:21
Most people are aghast at any cover-ups or double dealing where ever it is practised.

Hmmm. I’d argue that many will appear incensed when they read accounts of it in the media, but that anger soon dissipates – either when the facts are fully revealed or when they realise that most people trying to save their skins have done the same. Who hasn’t told lies?

Patrick Taylor says:
27 September 2018

The media feasts on the sensational and has no interest in curing the problem. I agree that there are differences in culpability but a lot of time a system is rigged so as to ensure people need to cheat or cut corners.

Looking at why people are backed into bad choices normally suggest someone higheer up is pulling strings for their own benefit. The Zeebrugge ferry disaster created by bean counters shaving minutes being a case in point.
In October 1987, a coroner’s inquest jury into the capsizing returned verdicts of unlawful killing. Seven people involved at the company were charged with gross negligence manslaughter, and the operating company, P&O European Ferries (Dover) Ltd, was charged with corporate manslaughter, but the case collapsed after Justice Turner directed the jury to acquit the company and the five most senior individual defendants.[34] It did, however, set a precedent that corporate manslaughter is legally admissible in English courts. The disaster was one of a number that influenced thinking leading to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.[35]

@dieseltaylor, Patrick. I have not disputed that VW owners have suffered loss (not sure who the comment was directed at) and I’ve aired my views on how some of that loss might be compensated.

I have pointed out before that the VW “cheat” was used to their advantage during the KBA’s execution of the NEDC test – a test regime designed by, and imposed on all manufacturers, by the EU in order to attain type approval. No question of that. I don’t know whether the cheat device also set out to give beneficial mpg and CO₂ results; I’ve lost track of that.

deceit in the pursuit of personal wealth is far worse than in simply attempting to avoid getting a bad report.“. Two of the motives for deceit are for money (say in business), and for covering misdemeanours (say in public life). The problem I have with the latter in, for example the maternity unit at Shrewsbury and Telford, at Gosport Hospital, in the NHS blood problem is that they not only caused actual loss of life and severe damage to health at the time but, by covering up, preventing people speaking out, destroying evidence maybe, they prevented speedy remedial action being taken and cause significant further fatalities and severe health damage. I’d put that kind of selfish, irresponsible, cowardly behaviour way above a profit motive. I’d suggest it is criminal. Lives cannot be recovered from the actions of these organisations and the people involved; money can be recovered.

Patrick – I have neither said not implied that I believed “the original excuse from VW that the upper echelons of VW were unaware”. Indeed, I wrote previously today that society should “exact a penalty on the company’s directors, relevant senior managers, and shareholders [through devaluation of their stock by the reduction of profits and dividends]”. In a subsequent comment I wrote “I have not heard whether any internal disciplinary processes have led to any sanctions against personnel. It is perhaps shocking, and grossly remiss of me, that I have not been following this story with the attention to detail that is expected of me by some people, but I can’t be everywhere I am afraid. It seems as though a handful of staff [other than those subject to criminal proceedings] have either jumped ship when close to shore or been made to walk the plank. I would have expected a major purge of the organisation and the closure and reformation of the entire testing unit would have been carried out. Perhaps it was and I missed it again.

I don’t think I have contended that there has been no actual loss to VW owners; some of them clearly have experienced a quantifiable loss and I have averred that they should have the right to be compensated for it if they wish. I just happen to think that very few losses will ever be crystallised, that in the overall scheme of things they are not as serious as is being made out, and that to some extent in a lifetime’s car ownership with possible ten or more vehicles we just have to accept the rub of the green. That’s my philosophy but I would not wish to impose it on anyone else. As Malcolm stated earlier today, the Indesit/Whirlpool case is much more deserving of active compensation because it put people’s lives at direct risk, meant serious inconvenience to owners, caused them direct additional expense, the rectification process was mishandled and protracted, and the public authorities [Peterborough Trading Standards et al] were delinquent and misdirected themselves [eventually having to be pulled into line by an application for judicial review by a private consumers’ organisation].

The management analytical concept of the “Thermocline of Truth” might come into play with huge organisations like VW. The upper echelons are blithely unaware of what is going on at production level [or pretend they are]. Many perpetrators might also be exonerated in honour of the popular Teutonic concept of “only obeying orders”, although I thought that had had its come-uppance seventy years ago..

Malcolm: “The problem I have with…the NHS blood problem (et al) is that they not only caused actual loss of life and severe damage to health at the time but, by covering up… they prevented speedy remedial action being taken… I’d put that kind of selfish, irresponsible, cowardly behaviour way above a profit motive. I’d suggest it is criminal.

But it is. That wasn’t the point I was making. John’s touched on it with his comment about the “Thermocline of Truth”, but the real point is that it is culturally embedded for many businesses to lie for profit; in the case of the NHS issue that was a worrying breakdown in management culture and responsibility, and one that we see in all kinds of institutions, everywhere but hopefully rarely. It is – or should be – an aberration, whereas lying and deceit in business is almost a prerequisite for promotion. Morals and business are not automatically linked, whereas in the NHS they are – and should be inextricable.

There are, and have been, many examples of deceit/malpractice/cover up in public services, some of which have had severe or catastrophic consequences. The point I was making was that this kind of attitude is, I believe, down to the people involved. That is where such problems start. And that is not limited to one sector. Personal advancement and protecting one’s position is probably a key driver for many.

I worked in industry and those businesses I was part of behaved well. Morals and the NHS are clearly not always linked as many of the scandals have shown over the years. I sense it is at the administration level that these problems start.

Malcolm are you talking about the big coverup by HMG that gave 4000 British hemophiliacs – HIV -etc by using American blood supplied from drug addicts/ prisoners /homeless etc ? This was back in the news as the coverup was outrageous in terms of the length it went to and the amount offered/given was derisory as it was a death sentence to them and they had to sign a waver of any future action being taken . As I said long ago in the USA you are paid for blood. I am lucky I had a blood transfusion in the early 70,s after a major stomach op.

There’s a public inquiry just started after 30 odd years. How timely?Many of the victims are dead.

I don’t deny that there have been (and possibly are) examples of deceit and lying in public services. The point which I’m making is that in business there is no moral imperative unless and until a conscious decision is made to create one. The NHS has as its guiding principle a moral imperative and while individuals can and do ignore that it remains the very reason why, when something does happen, they are held to a higher standard than businesses. The word ‘pilloried’ is not inappropriate.

You might well ‘sense’ where the problems start but in fact I know of incidents which have been instigated elsewhere.

I’m not defending NHS miscreants; far from it, although I could point to the incredibly intense levels of public scrutiny under which Health Board and Hospital administrators are expected to work while resources are continually whittled away, the targets that are set by those who lie for a living and the intense media scrutiny when things go wrong as being ameliorating factors, but in the case of business we don’t hear about the issues, since businesses worry about confidence, about salaries and about employment, and it’s only when it emerges that a car company has been routinely lying and deceiving about emissions that can seriously impact the health of children in cities since 1973 that there’s any sort of public reaction, because that’s the first time we get to find out what’s been happening.

The Telegraph, 13 June 2018:
”Volkswagen has agreed to pay a €1bn (£880m) fine in Germany, saying the penalty means it “accepts responsibility” for the diesel emissions scandal which sent the company into crisis.
…..
The fine consists of the maximum €5m penalty that could be imposed along with a further €995m for what it described as the “disgorgement of economic benefits”.
VW said that accepting the penalty means “active regulatory offence proceedings conducted against [the company] will be finally terminated”.

I wonder what other EU states (including the UK) are doing? If they all charged the same that would exceed to US fine of $25 bn

It’s a useful benchmark. There are probably more of the affected VW’s in Germany than in other EU states but the number of affected cars in State X over the number in Germany would give a working percentage on which to base the calculation of a penalty.

I was deciding whether to join the class action or not. What finally made my mind up was a comment by The Slater & Gordon lawyer saying that the government had not taken the option to enforce the emission regulations. So even if VW did something illegal we cannot get redress. Given that VW appears not to have contravened any legislation that is enforceable in this country victor seems unlikely. If it is the compensation will be so small that it doesn’t seem worthwhile. The lawyers will take 100% of the basic charges, success fees, expenses and disbursements. The basic charges can be as high as £500 an hour it will not take long before each participant will have to sacrifice 100% of their compensation – this being the limit of the charges. I know there are 80,000 people in the class action, but since VW has done nothing wrong in enforceable law compensation will be in the hundreds. I suspect that charges will be in the hundreds of thousands. Even if divided by 80,000 it will still be substantial on a personal level.

Roger Scammell says:
2 October 2018

I also have problems with this class action, I like VW cars and I am not impressed by the deception, but how can a class action effect a reparation to those who have been deceived. The emissions affect everyone in the country where the vehicle is driven, not the driver. The mpg figure as I understand this repair will go down and therefore cost the driver more money and a poorer performance. It is not clear to me what disadvantage the driver/owner has suffered. Talking to a VW dealer some 12 months after the release of details even the second hand price only dipped briefly. The current ban on diesel cars in certain towns and cities has done more to effect a change in second user prices. I cannot believe the class action belongs to the driver. It should be the government who are concerned for the health of their people. I do not believe VW owe me reparation, and indeed I would still buy another VW diesel, although perhaps the next purchase will be electric as the planet needs our help.

Patrick Taylor says:
11 October 2018

” The mpg figure as I understand this repair will go down and therefore cost the driver more money and a poorer performance. It is not clear to me what disadvantage the driver/owner has suffered.”

I think your first sentence quoted illustrates the disadvantage your second sentence wonders about.

I think an analogy of buying a gold ring of 22 carat and then finding later it is 18carat. It looks the same and you have suffered no damage so would you be happy not to be recompensed for the deceit?

Geoffrey Roberts says:
7 October 2018

Surely the Government should take action against VW.
It is not only their customers that have suffered but the general population and the environment.
If VW had published true emissions figures many of their customers would have chosen less polluting vehicles from other manufacturers.
With the popularity of German manufactured diesel cars the health and well being of the nation has surely been damaged.

Noreen says:
10 October 2018

I bought my VW Golf in Northern Ireland. Am I eligible to claim? I have had my remedial work done.

Patrick Taylor says:
11 October 2018

The NI, and Scotland, right to join cases are dealt with in by several comments in the thread and actually at the English solicitors site if you read far enough..

In the UK, in order to successfully press a suit for damages or compensation, it is necessary to demonstrate loss or damage has been incurred. What loss or damage is being claimed? Being hoodwinked? Dented pride? Serious affront? I believe the tourist industry (air in particular) and commercial traffic are guilty of far greater pollution than VW vehicles, which I dare say are probably no worse than any made by other manufacturers. If anyone should be claiming, it should be HMG for non-compliance with taxation classification or NHS for repair of a damaged society! The reality is that the vast majority of vehicles pass MoT tests which should be the standard for maintaining low pollution levels. Perhaps it’s time HMG revisited the MoT test parameters with a view to setting a meaningful framework of standards which relate to both tax class and manufacturer claimed performance. It might also make sense for law to somehow embody penalty on manufacturer failure to achieve claimed standards to reinforce pollution control.

Patrick Taylor says:
11 October 2018

Perhaps this might persuade you that quantifiable losses will accrue if the car is driven. There is cost of petrol and calling more frequently at a fuel station. Many diesels are bought for high mileage driving.

” The owner of a tested Skoda Yeti thinks its driveability has worsened after the measure.
“The engine feels weaker at the rpms I usually run, which is below 2000. It has deteriorated too much for me to accept”, says the owner.
He has also kept a driving journal and noted an increase in fuel consumption after the update. For the first 19,000 kilometres, the average fuel consumption was 46 miles to the gallon, but after the update it only does 40 miles per gallon.”

teknikensvarld.se/dieselgate-volkswagen-cars-loses-power-after-fix-456111/

Andy P says:
26 October 2018

I accept the notion that everyone has been deceived/affected by the VW emissions scandal, not just the owners of these vehicles. I am not certain enough that the class action will succeed, as I write on deadline day, and I’m not prepared to risk legal losses. As a Seat Alhambra owner it had an EU5 engine and ran very well without trouble for 5 years and 120,000 miles. Then it had the dreaded recall after dieselgate and I dutifully handed the car over to a main dealer. It received the software tweak and the freebie sop of AdBlue top ups, as the frequency of top up fell from 13500 miles to between 7000 and 9000 miles. Then the yellow warning lights started coming on – particulate filter and engine management. The tweak had clearly ‘unbalanced’ the exhaust management system and within a year I needed a new EGR at a cost of £700 (main dealer price well over £1000). Further yellow lights came and went and I eventually sold the car to a dealer at 168,000 in 7+ years as PX for another Alhambra. Sure ‘I would like my £700 back’ especially as a few weeks after replacing the EGR Seat UK wrote to me and said that other issues might arise from the so called EA189 action including problems with the EGR! It was never quite said that they would replace it for free though. Despite all the above I am still an Alhambra owner because it meets my needs for capacity, comfort and economy, but the new one is an EU6 car which I am told has passed the current legislation…..I hope!

my father bought his vw in April 2017 hand second he’s just found out he’s not allowed to claim but the car is a part of the emission scandal. its not fair

Kirk Bubb says:
7 January 2019

When is this case actually in court and when can we expect a decision?

It wasn’t just VW though was it. There doesn’t seem to be much hype against the other manufacturers who’s cars operate / operated similar to VW and I am not talking about other makes of cars fitted with VW engines. I am not condoning that what VW did was right but if all cars produced less emissions when the car was stood still on tickover then that’s not a bad thing is it.

Graham Holloway says:
26 April 2019

smartguy69 is right. Designers and engineers move around the industry, from manufacturer to manufacturer. It does tend to become a level playing field with technology shared. VW were chased by the Americans because they saw the chance of the largest pay-out, quickly. Yes, VW cheated but they were not the only ones with excessive emissions when being driven normally. I recently read a report by an independent test house that showed, I believe, a new diesel Qashqai (cat 6) to have real world emissions greater than a seven year old Octavia (cat 4 or 5?). What’s going to happen to my lovely 2.0 diesel Jetta (60 + mpg, measured, 10/12p per mile) that I wanted to keep for the next 7 or 8 years?

Victor says:
27 May 2019

I am completely disillusioned-The UK government urged us to buy diesel cars-which I did in May 2014-a Skoda Superb,which is superb .
Now due to ULEZ, I am unable to travel into London , even though I have a Blue Badge .
This makes it virtually impossible to go to the theatre ,or outings to visit museums or festivals in London,without a considerable cost of a hire car or taxi.
The government should also accept some responsibility for this serious problem

No help except to buy another car – they suggest petrol!
Mayors questions:
Answer for ULEZ blue badge discounts
Answered By:
The Mayor
Date:
Thursday, 2nd August 2018
“Blue badge holders receive a 100 per cent discount for the Congestion Charge in recognition of the fact they may have fewer alternatives to car travel. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) does not place a blanket charge on all cars entering the zone, and only charges vehicles that do not meet minimum emissions standards.

Most blue badge holders are not restricted in their choice of vehicle and so will be able to change to a compliant vehicle. Petrol cars that meet the ULEZ standards have been available from around 2001, meaning a second hand option will be available. However, the Government should also be delivering a diesel scrappage scheme to get the filthiest cars off our roads and to help drivers to switch to cleaner vehicles and greener alternatives. London needs a government which takes responsibility for this toxic air quality crisis.

The ULEZ also offers a time limited sunset period for vehicles with a disabled or disabled passenger vehicle tax class, as these vehicles have often been modified for use by disabled people and so are harder to replace. As part of the recent consultation on changes to the ULEZ I have extended this sunset period where vehicles will receive an exemption of the daily charge from 2023 until 2025, providing a seven year notice period for affected drivers.