/ 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?


Once again the Goverment fails the Public and all this endless talk on Brexit

Sorry to say, but yet another failure by Government to protect the rights of consumers. And also a fraudulent claim over zero/low emissions by VW which has duped consumers into buying vehicles which are in serious contravention of various UK Consumer Laws – not to mention denying the DVLA / Exchequer of the correct rate of Road Tax. Most importantly of all – the damage caused to the environment and people’s health – especially children and adult asthma sufferers – by dangerous pollution. Theresa May – wake up and smell the fumes !!

From the Slater & Gordon website:

What are my risks?
Any claimants involved in a Court case could be ordered to pay the defendants’ legal costs if they lose. This is a characteristic of the Court system in England and Wales. In order to protect claimants from that risk, we have obtained an indemnity from the Third Party Funder who are responsible for obtaining insurance. If the case is lost, it will be the Third Party Funder or their insurers who will pay the other side’s costs up to the level of the amount insured. It is our duty to minimise the risk to you as far as possible, and the funder’s indemnity and Insurance should mean that the risk will be negligible. Other risks are referred to in the Claim Summary document, which we have prepared and which is available to prospective claimants during the registration process.

“….the funder’s indemnity and Insurance should mean that the risk will be negligible.” Is it so negligible that in the event of cover being insufficient to protect claimants that Slater & Gordon will pay any balance of costs because they have not arranged adequate insurance?

Why has the Government stuck its head in the sand over the dieselgate scandal? As well as the moral issues of people driving cars not as ‘green’ as they were led to believe, there are thousands of cars on our roads with zero-rated road tax – a great marketing incentive to buy such a vehicle. So surely the Government should have worked out what the actual emissions were, apply the appropriate road tax and claim it back from Volkswagen. The Government (us) have missed out on millions of pounds due to the cheating tactics encouraging customers to buy these vehicles.

I can’t believe that people are still buying cars made by the VW group. The only way to make corrupt, lying, cheating corporations like VW sit up and listen is to hit them where it hurts, in the pocket. A good friend of mine has got a Skoda Fabia 1.4 tdi Greenline that was affected by the cheat. She has taken it back to her Skoda garage, had “The Fix” done and she has noticed a marked deterioration in performance, mainly when pulling away in first gear. She says that when she pulls away the car goes all sluggish like it’s about to stall, so she has to rev it hard (great for the environment!) to get it going. The car was fine before “The Fix”.
I personally wouldn’t by a European car, they are over-priced, over-rated and unreliable. I’d buy a Japanese car 24/7. There’s a good reason why the top of the reliabillity tables are dominated by the Japanese.

…but don’t top Japanese brands like Honda, Toyota and Nissan build a lot of their cars in the UK?

And what has that got to do with the price of eggs DerekP? It doesn’t matter where they are assembled, Japanese brands top the reliability tables.

I think the price of eggs would be in another convo…

But I was interested to see if you thought whether or not the country or company culture drove reliability…

You are right! Japanese cars are superior value for money. I have two and they are reliable and well made. German cars are bought ONLY for their marque. Millions spent only for prestige.

Why didn’t you ask that in the first place?

I would say that it’s definitely company culture that drives reliability. A good friend of mine used to work for Toyota at Burnaston in Derbyshire, he is a highly skilled paint tecnician and has worked for various paint producing companies in the UK. He said that the work culture at Toyota was unlike anything he’d ever experienced before. They brought the same work ethic they use in Japan and schooled their UK workers in the ways of the homeland factories. If the workforce didn’t conform and perform they would simply shut up shop and take their business elsewhere.

MM, my own experience has been that my British built Fords were as reliable as my Japanese built Toyota, the latter was built before all the problems they had a few years ago.

All of the French built cars that I’ve had (various Renaults, a Citroen and my current Nissan) have been noticeably less reliable, but still quite good.

When I used to read the reliability tables published by Which? they tended to show many Japanese brands at the top of the reliability tables but also BMW and Mercedes were usually there too. That said, I never liked the way those data were compiled, by only looking at newish cars.

These days, if Hyundai offer the longest warranty, does that mean they actually build the most reliable cars?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I found that the smaller Fords were very reliable, but as you went up in size and spec they became less reliable, I’d imagine it was something to do with keeping things simple, the less you put into the car, the less can go wrong. With all due respect, the Which reliability tables only publish the data of Which members that have contributed to the survey, it’s not a country wide survey of mechanics, breakdown recovery firms and owners alike. The country-wide surveys show the German marques are nowhere near the top of the reliability tables, the Japanese always take the top spots.

Like most things in life, the best way to find out what to embrace and what to avoid is word of mouth, Talk to your friends, colleagues and associates.

So what do you think Derek? Do you think that because Hyundi offer the longest warranty they build the most reliable cars? Or do you think like me that with all warrenties you really need to read the small print to find out wether or not the warrenty is worth the paper it is written on?

Personally, I don’t have any long term experience of Hyundai.

But, given that they’re prepared to offer 7 year warranties, I expect they’d be at least as good as my “American” Fiesta and my Japanese Yaris and rather better than “Japanese” Note.

Also, from my own hypothetical perspective, I’ve not yet found a Hyundai that I’d actually really, really want to buy, so I’m not very interested in that answer. From all the various company cars and hire cars that I’ve driven over the last 6 or 7 years, the one I actually liked best was the Skoda Octavia. Of course, all of that is down to “irrational buy factors” as opposed to technical data. The Hyundai “ford escorts” (or whatever they call them) were completely acceptable and OK, but just lacked any semblance of the kind of magic spark that gets me signing sales contracts.

Like I said, it’s not the length of the warrenty that counts, it’s what the warrenty actually covers, what’s included and what’s excluded, it’ll all be in the small-print.

The Hyundai has stages in the 7 year warranty. For the last 2 years only the drive train is covered. Kia seems to exclude less. But they are not “full” warranties for the whole period.

Some of my friends replaced their expensive cars with Hyundai and one bought two, the seven year warranty and price being the main attractions. The warranty is now for five years and the terms and conditions seem reasonable: https://www.hyundai.co.uk/misc-pages/5_year_warranty The terms & conditions seem reasonable – there is a link on the page. Other manufacturers offer extended warranties beyond the common three years but at extra cost. One of my former neighbours has a Vauxhall lifetime warranty – now discontinued but still valid.

I’m not sure what this has to do with the subject we have been invited to discuss.

wavechange, I think it is relevant to the proposition that we can all punish VW Group by not buying any of their cars ever again.

That applies to many companies that we might take exception to. However, we don’t do it, which presumably means most people don’t know of their transgressions, or simply don’t care enough. Their (our choice).

I still buy from Amazon when they’re cheapest, even from CPCW, eBay, because it is in my personal interest. I also still subscribe to Which? and support it, despite grossly inflated pay to some, horrendous losses in India and Which?Financial Services, and being critical (now and then) of their lack of engagement and partisan reports, and the abrupt termination of Which.net.

Derek – My view is that VW should be punished now. If I was buying a car today it would not be a VW but what happens in five years time will depend on developments. We are starting to learn that other companies might not be beyond reproach.

Please can you confirm my maximum risk if I sign up it seem that the Legal Costs could run into millions ?? and I do not want to loose everything I own !!! thank you Nigel

It’s a “no win no fee”. 35% of your win goes to the lawyers.

It would be nice if the lawyers guaranteed that claimants were protected against costs, but apparently not: https://conversation.which.co.uk/motoring/volkswagen-dieselgate-scandal-compensation-uk/#comment-1545787

Is it suggested that Slater & Gordon are cheating when they say “no win, no fee?” Their website clearly says:
We are acting on a No Win No Fee basis regardless of how many affected vehicles you own so you won’t pay our fees if you lose and you will only be required to make any payment if the claim is won or settles successfully.

Unless I have missed something, there does seem to be a discrepancy between what is on the two pages.

Indeed. I find this sentence worrying:

“…the funder’s indemnity and Insurance should mean that the risk will be negligible”. “Should”? I’d prefer “will”, personally.

It is underwritten to an extent and the insurer would also have looked at the chances of the case succeeding before asking for a premium. Therefore different two sets of QC’s will have given opinions as to the success likelihood and the risk reward.

It would be nice if they adviced the cover amount of the insurance which I believe is mentioned in a appendix you can access later in the joining process for claimants. Bear in mind that with 50,000 + claimants if there was an excess over the legal insurance of say a hugely unlikely £0.5m then it would be £10 each.

you will only be required to make any payment if the claim is won or settles successfully. As far as I can see this is quite clear. The only payment a claimant will make is th S&G if the claim succeeds (their 35% of the award). Maybe S&G will pay any excess if they lose out of their own resources? I imagine they, and the lawyers acting for them, are not exactly strapped for cash.

However, should Slater and Gordon lose, and try to claim money off their class action customers, those customers could appoint another firm of solicitors to take out a class action against S&G on another no win no fee basis. Yet even more money into the lawyers’ pockets – it could go on for ever. 🙂

I’m a bit of Skoda fan but my current car is a French-built Nissan(*).

If I’m right in thinking that VW’s cheating only affected their USA emissions test results – and not the day to day emissions from their cars – then I don’t think there’s any valid EU or UK regulatory basis for reprimanding VW on account of emissions.

That leaves the legal issue of whether or not UK owners have suffered “actual loss” as a result of the damage to VW’s brand reputation and to actual resale values. I can see that there could be a valid basis for UK civil action here.

(*) I stopped buying diesel cars many years ago, after a colleague told me about the pollution problems they caused. He is asthmatic, so he was particularly aware of those issues.

If, as many people say, VW weren’t ‘cheating’ in Europe, how come I’ve had to have my Skoda recalled for the update? I’m also convinced it doesn’t run quite as well as it did before!

Richard, if you’re right, the so-called fix to you car hasn’t helped your car’s performance at all.

But I guess that VW agreed to rolling the fixes out across the EU as a way of limiting the damage to its brand reputation and as a token way of making amends for this issue.

As a car owner, I would expect that your only legal duties would be set by your’s car’s annual MoT tests. So, if pre-fix, your car already satisfied those, what’s the point & purpose of the fix?

If there is a problem after modification of the car then why not take it back and complain? I wondered what I was letting myself in for by taking my car to the dealer but fifteen months later I have had no problems. I don’t know how much value the car has lost as a result of the loss of confidence in the company.

Malcolm says:
18 September 2018

I never bought one. They are cancer cars driven by people who don’t care. They should all be crushed.

We can, rightly, criticise VW for producing a cheat device and giving false expectations for NOx. However, if we want to really control NOx emissions, we should also be looking at the whole picture, the greater polluters and how they might control their own emissions – industry, electricity generation, trains and planes for example.

Two of the aspects of the harm NOx emissions do are
1. by high concentrations in towns and cities, giving respiratory problems for example. Fossil fuelled vehicles will have a big impact on this. One way to control this is to ban either all, or higher polluting, vehicles. Maybe at specific (rush hour) times. Some cities have introduced restricted zones where only Euro 6 vehicles are allowed. What I don’t want to see is people getting round this with older vehicles by simply paying an extra charge.

To make this work properly requires better public transport and places to park out of town.

2. by harming the planet generally – formation of acid rain and ozone for example.

Controlling all NOx emissions is therefore important. It is worth looking wider than cars to see where NOx is produced.

Defra’s figures for 2014 (latest I can find) show, out of the following sources, where it comes from:

Combustion in industry – 31%
Public production of electricity and heat – 24%
Other transport – 20%
Passenger cars – 15%
Heavy duty vehicles – 9%

Perhaps also worth bearing in mind is that if electricity generation is to grow substantially, should electric vehicles become more popular for example, since we are still going to be largely dependent upon gas as a fuel for the foreseeable future the amount from the “public production of electricity…” will grow. Will this offset the saving from conventional vehicles? It is more efficient to burn diesel in an engine than produce the equivalent energy in a car from a gas-fired power station, so maybe not. Until we have nuclear or tidal generation polluting emissions will stay with us.

Maybe the following can answer some of your environmental concerns Malcolm.

A recent report claims “German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers forcing carmakers to retrofix diesel cars to lower emissions was the wrong approach. She said it was up to the industry to regain public trust and invest in the future.

The full report @ https://www.dw.com/en/merkel-calls-for-hands-off-approach-to-german-auto-industry/a-43815911

This comment concerned retrofitting all older diesel cars (and other vehicles I believe) to bring them up to higher emissions standards:
A spokesman for the Federal Environment Ministry said: “We need to retrofit older diesel cars. This is the only way to improve the air quality in the cities and the only way to avoid driving bans and stop the loss in value of diesel engines. It is the task of the Federal Ministry of Transport to implement this.”“.

I commented on the possibility of retrofitting pre-Euro6 engines to get round the future extended London ultra low emissions zone restriction. I posted links to approved kits for larger (commercial vehicles) but there seems to be little scope for cars in view of the lack of space.

I would think retrofitting large vehicles in the UK would be a help, as would dealing with other large diesel users, whether transport or stationary.

However, my concern was to point out that 85% of NOx emissions comes from sources other than passenger cars. Something worthy of attention?

Henry Denton John davies says:
18 September 2018

Did own an Audti ( Petrol). But it only goes to show how meaningless are the words of this two spoke Government who have remained silent and not shown any interest to assist their people who they are supposedly there in Office to represent and look after our interest’s. The famous saying WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER, WHAT A JOKE. They are only looking after the interest’s of the Car makers by keeping quiet.

Malcolm says:
18 September 2018

You need to back to 2nd WW when Churchill sold us to what is now the EU. It’s not the UK government who are being lazy, it’s the UK government who’s hands are tied by the EU. That’s the problem.

Kia 7 year warranty
Hyundai 5 year
Toyota 5 year
Subaru 5 year
Mitsubishi 5 year
Renault – 4 years

Whats yours?

Malcolm says:
18 September 2018

All of them worthless without all the dealer history, servicing etc

I have owned about 20 cars in my life time. The VW Passat Automatic Estate I bought new in 2011, and still have, is the best car I have ever owned. So I do not feel I have been cheated. With or without the emmissions defeat device it still complies with the emissions regulations in the UK and EU. I bought the car after reading the Which? Best Cars magazine. Why did not Which? pick up that a emissions defeat device had been fitted? Perhaps I should be suing Which? I shall not be joining any legal campaign against VW.

Malcolm says:
18 September 2018

I hate to think what rubbish you owned previously.

JH see below for the full details but apparently the engines would have failed the EU requirements but for the cheat device.

As to Which? being able to discern what pretty much everybody else failed to spot at the time I think a harsh call. However the linking of the Which? brand by proclaiming the Which? Best Car Manufacturer of the Year 2015 I think shows a major weakness in the idea of an Awards concept where a Brand and an independent reviewer get a little too close being identified with each other.

Which? have consistently claimed to measure car performance better than the EU test, including pollution. So not picking up on such an apparently gross excess of NOx emissions, and pursuing the cause as happened in the US, seems to shed some doubt upon the diligence of its testing analysis.

Surely the deceit by VW is on the whole UK community who’s health and well-being has been compromised by a CHEAT? They should recompense us, not just VW owners. VW should be barred from car sales activity until it has both redressed their cheat, and proven they can be trusted.

If you are joining the claim, what is your loss? How many of you, hand on heart, bought these cars because of their eco credentials rather than because you liked the car itself or the deal on offer? If you were happy with the fuel economy and performance prior to the scandal, why aren’t you now? If you were happy before and were supplied with what you anticipated then you have no loss. These cars will remain as popular second hand because they are basically good cars. Yes, manufacturers should be held to account but just because you’re embarrassed to find you own a car caught up in the scandal doesn’t mean you have a worthwhile claim and many lawyers are avoiding these claims like the plague and the only way the ‘lead’ lawyers will make it pay is by taking lots of 35% payments from what are likely to be very small amounts of damages. Ask what the value of your claim is, what the costs risk is and whether it is worthwhile. Bear in mind that the value of your claim may effectively make it a small claim with limited costs recovery. VW may have settled the US litigation but the law in the US is very different to ours and claims in England are not valued in the same manner. Its time to take a step back before diving in. I don’t drive an affected car now but I did do. It was one of the best cars I have ever had and wouldn’t hesitate to buy another. I am also a solicitor with a realistic view of litigation risks and potential compensation levels.

Rather a specious argument given that many factors are considered and weighed choosing a vehicle. Trying to hinge your argument on a particular aspect seems to be trying to reframe the situation – I will have a go at it though : )

The fundamental point should be would you have bought this car if you knew it was:
a] sporting a cheat device to deceive regulators as to it’s pollutants
b] without the cheat device it’s performance was not as good as claimed

I think most readers would appreciate that once and if the cheat device was found that there would be unquantifiable repercussions though loss of value would be likely. Perhaps at the worse and if it had been discovered early regulators would have taken them off the road. In the UK perhaps the VED would have changed significantly.

Who in their right mind would buy one knowing it was in breach of Eu regulations?

Many people, I suspect, ignore such matters when buying a car. Otherwise why do they buy legal gas-guzzling vehicles that produce excessive pollution? How many even know about NEDC tests and NOx emissions? So there is sense in DJS’s argument. How many still by VW Group cars, or Whirlpool / Hotpoint products for example, despite the history?

Ignoring emissions as a factor is a decision that anyone can make BUT the point is would you buy a car if you were aware it was not legal in the EU is the question to consider.

If a car lied about its ENCAP rating – though I personally do not worry – I would not buy it. The manufacturer may lie about other matters and I might be subject to a recall. It is the lie itself which is the problem not which aspect of the car lied about.

Yes, Patrick, but why should people in ignorance of such matters and who bought a VW which they might otherwise have avoided be entitled to any compensation? What is their specific loss that is distinguishable from the loss that all other buyers of VW cars at the time might have experienced in notional resale value? Given the average ownership period of a car I doubt whether depreciation is a material factor in the majority of cases, and, as DJS and Malcolm have said, such concerns are low down on the list of purchasing criteria.

If Volkswagen, or the EC, had declared at a much earlier stage that a device to get round the emissions standards had been fitted, the market would have reacted, the cars would have had to be withdrawn, and no one would have bought one whether knowingly or unknowingly.

I am not defending VW’s actions but I consider it futile for people to expect any redress beyond the technical modifications. Many cars have been made with in-built defects that could arguably have been financially detrimental but the normal remedy is to recall them and rectify the defect.

As has been said throughout these Conversations the major issue has been the unnecessary additional pollution that these cars have created which is a ‘loss’ to society and possibly some relatively minor taxation losses. I would hope that whatever the outcome of the litigation is, and any disciplinary measures imposed by the EC, the priority will be to benefit society as a whole rather than individuals.

If I were affected by this issue I would not be joining a class action, mainly because I don’t think it is appropriate in the circumstances, but also, at a mercenary level, because I don’t think it has a great chance of success or is worth the candle.

Perhaps we should be looking at corporate responsibility and ethics. If I claim it will not be for personal gain but because this is about the only way that I can contribute to help ensure that the VW Group is punished. Several contributors have contributed examples of how some of our largest corporations have behaved unethically and irresponsibly, and some examples are briefly documented in Wikipedia entries.

I doubt that is an argument that would carry much weight in court on a compensation claim. Nevertheless, I support your contention that bad business must be sanctioned – although I do feel it is more for the proper authorities than for the courts to deal with. In theory we should be able to take the authorities to court if they fail to exercise discipline over the market.

Time is pushing on and if people like me do make a claim and it is successful then at least we will have done to punish the company in the UK. Long ago I said that I would give any compensation to charity. I would far prefer that the case was dealt with in a more orthodox way.

It is for states to punish companies and for individuals to recieve appropriate compensation for loss.

I have never condoned VW’s actions. However, we must be careful about personal ethics and motivations as well. Many are driving around in cars, and other vehicles, far more polluting than the “cheat” VWs, vehicles that have been corrected. Once upon a time, not so long ago, NOx NEDC limits were 6 times what they are currently – in the lab. So if we are all so concerned about emissions we would change all our cars to Euro 6. But, of course, many do not – at least, not I suspect for any reasons to do with emissions.

Furthermore, if we are concerned about pollution, 85% of NOx was last reported as coming from other sources than passenger cars. Perhaps we should be tackling the electricity generators, manufacturing, public transport and heavy diesel plant?

Some of us are already doing our bit… 😇

1,020 mpg….

JW – You are of course entitled to a different view. Your “solution” of a technical fix being adequate seems to ignore the experiences of many here and in Belgium, Portugal* etc where the fix has meant they have poorer performing vehicles. They also will no doubt also take a hit at resale.

Then of course there is the matter of whether VW owners of affected models are reimbused for visiting the garage in their own time.

Overall JW the extent of your solution seems pretty one-sided.

Lastly ” the major issue has been the unnecessary additional pollution” seems curious, for many people the major issue is cheating the emissions testing regime in the first place.

* As collated in their surveys of thousands of drivers.

I’m getting infinite mpg by walking everywhere 😉

Surely, Patrick, after the technical modification, the owner has a legal vehicle. It is inappropriate to compare that with an illegal vehicle that might perform better but is causing excess pollution.

I don’t see “visiting the garage in their own time” as a recompensable activity. It is just one of the vicissitudes of life. I am prepared to accept that my attitude to this is one-sided because it is. I think we need to snap out of this mentality, fostered by the legal industry, that for every little inconvenience some one else is liable and the ‘victim’ is due a bonus. Worse things happen at sea.

The cheat was rumbled. The authorities are onto it. A fix has been offered. Nobody has suffered any real harm. I think it’s time to move on now and let the EC do what it has to do to penalise [not punish] VW for breaking its regulations.

Malcolm wrote: “Furthermore, if we are concerned about pollution, 85% of NOx was last reported as coming from other sources than passenger cars. Perhaps we should be tackling the electricity generators, manufacturing, public transport and heavy diesel plant?” That sounds like a recipe for achieving nothing. I think it is timely to look at what is going on in the motor industry.

A negative and unjustified response, in my view.

I have already commented on the problem with VW – just a proportion of cars on the road, most of which seem to comply. VW should be penalised for what they have done in a way that deters others.

What I have now suggested we also tackle other sources of NOx – far greater than the cheat cars. I’m concerned to tackle pollution, not only extract retribution from VW. We need to be broad minded in this issues and adopt a constructive approach.

I wonder how much natural gas has been consumed to generate the electricity that helps a PHEV go most of those miles that petrol doesn’t manage?

If you choose to go that route, then you end up with working out how much energy is consumed to create the food that Derek buys to get his infinite mpg by walking, don’t you? But this topic is specifically about the motor industry – VW in particular, so really the debate has to be about cheating by VW and not how to stop pollution across the planet.

And isn’t calling someone’s comment “A negative and unjustified response, in my view” becoming personal? And you do dislike that

1. As you raised the mpg (not VW), I made a pertinent comment.
2. No, it was not.

Global pollution is indeed a widespread and complex problem but a separate issue for another debate. Although not altogether completely unsolvable, in my opinion it can only be debated and solved one segment at a time.

The VW scandal would not be an issue if it were not for its cheating aspects, which were, I think we all agree, entirely avoidable, and which are intrinsically linked and central to this particular debate.

I don’t think Wavechange’s comment was negative but perhaps more an attempt to keep the debate from veering off topic.

JW – I am at loss to understand how you can equate a having a lesser performing car than you originally bought as a “good” solution. Seems illogical. Or perhaps people are not aware of the extent of the problems resulting – read here:

I am not sure that having these sorts of problems, due to a cheat, and the time spent by customers on resolving VW’s cheat should be seen as a freely given gift from customers. One might make a case perhaps for a subsequent fault found in a car but certainly not for a deliberately engineered “fault”.

As for Malcom’s comment that states discipline rogue companies and not individulas through the Courts that has problems. Large companies and whole industries employ lobbyists to perpetually guard their interests at high levels such as regulators and politicians.

Which? does not educate readers regarding lobbyists, cartels, or the movement between politics/govt and companies. Perhaps it ought to , perhaps once a year, show this sort of detail.

Consumers band together on the basis that individually they can be ignored but en masse they have some muscle to counter companies and regulators.

Whilst Which? claims to do this certainly over the last decade it has misssed several major consumer matters*. Whether this is because Which? Ltd has been inefficient or is run by co-opted businessmen rather than people from consumer backgrounds is a discussion worth having.

* Housing market woes
* Care Quality Commission re-registering closed homes immediately under new names
* Belatedly joining the cause for metal backs to kitchen white goods
* not supporting AllTrials
* staying supine regarding pharmacy2u
and others

“The first stage of the trial, which ended sooner than expected last month, closed with Volkswagen conceding that the relevant vehicles passed the advertised emission standards only when operating in a test mode or mode 1 – now referred to as the “cheat” mode.

Court documents show that when Volkswagen was asked “would the vehicles have passed the NEDC (European) Type I test, in respect of applicable NOx emissions, without the use of mode 1?”, it answered “no”.”


So should they have been on sale at all in the EU?

So should they have been on sale at all in the EU?“. No. If they were to fail the EU’s type testing NEDC requirements they would not have been allowed to be released onto the EU market.

I don’t think there was any doubt, when the cheat was admitted, that this was the case. Having remained undiscovered for so long, with millions of cars on the market, the issue now, as then, would be to put the vehicle in a condition that would pass the type tests. The corrective action was the way the EU chose. The question is, as we are where we are, how best to penalise VW. Owners’ attributable losses are one aspect, tax loss to governments is another, the less easily definable damage to the environment would be a third and a deterrent (to others) penalty a fourth. The customers’ losses are likely to be relatively low.

It was the KBA who approved the fix as a cure. The EU AFAIK do not have jurisdiction.

Read this

I am pleased you can quantify the amount Malcolm as I think it is rather complex though I am not sure what low means in your terms.

Canada not being the US this may provide scale ”
The German automaker has agreed to a major payout to consumers affected by emissions-rigging software on diesel vehicles. A lawyer representing consumers hailed the deal as a “great outcome for Canadian consumers.” German automaker Volkswagen (VW) and a group of lawyers representing Canadian three-liter diesel engine owners and lessees announced a proposed settlement on Friday worth 290.5 million Canadian dollars (€191 million, $233.1 million).

VW don’t sell many cars in Canada but then again our courts may be less consumer friendly.

State organisations that deal with car certification are, like other product certification organisations such as BSI, recognised throughout the EU. Only one certification is necessary that is automatically accepted by all states. This is very sensible in principle. It is the KBA in Germany who did the testing and when I spoke the the equivalent organisation in the UK – VCA – they confirmed that whatever remedial action KBA approved would be accepted throughout the EU.

It may be we should be investigating KBA to see why they did not detect the cheat and whether there was any complicity. Perhaps they are already doing this.

Someone earlier asked why Which? had not picked up the “discrepancy”.

i>”Car emissions: the Which? difference In our own tough emissions tests, we collect air-polluting emissions data in our lab. This measures the quantity of exhaust emissions – such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and particulate matter (PM).” Perhaps Which? should review its test regime, and its testers, as it could, presumably, have detected cheating. It should have been on the lookout for it given previous reported history.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/06/daimler-forced-to-recall-mercedes-cars-over-diesel-emissions/ – Which?

Re my post above, I overlooked this bit:
To stop any manufacturer confusing our tests, where we’re suspicious of the NOx emissions we record in the lab, we will often run additional test cycles using a Portable Emissions Measuring System (PEMS). This device is placed in the car and emissions are recorded while driving on real roads. We then compare this data with what we recorded in the lab.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/06/daimler-forced-to-recall-mercedes-cars-over-diesel-emissions/ – Which?

Presumably, Which? found nothing untoward either in the lab or on the road? It was on the road that the Americans uncovered the cheat by what seemed excessive emissions. Did Which? not spot this?

Just to provide an idea about what fraud means:

Fraud Act 2006
” The general offence of fraud

Section 1 of the Act establishes a new general offence of fraud, which can be committed in three ways: fraud by false representation; fraud by failing to disclose information; and fraud by abuse of position. These are set out in sections 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

There are two basic requirements which must be met before any of the three limbs of the new offence can be charged. First, the behaviour of the defendant must be dishonest.[2] Second it must also be his intention to make a gain, or cause a loss to another.[3] However, there will no longer be any need to prove that a gain or loss has been made, or that any victim was deceived by the defendant’s behaviour. Each of the three limbs of the offence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Section 2 makes it an offence to commit fraud by false representation in any form. For a representation to be false, the representation being made must be wrong or misleading, and the person making it must know that it is, or might be, wrong or misleading.

For example, a section 2 offence would be committed by a “phisher”, i.e. a person who sends emails to large groups of people falsely representing that the email has been sent by a legitimate financial institution. The email prompts the reader to provide information such as credit card and bank account numbers so that the “phisher” can gain access to their assets.

10. It makes no difference if the representation is made to a machine or to a person. For example, a false representation involving the inputting of a number into a CHIP and PIN machine would also be covered by the offence.

11_. Section 3_ makes it an offence for a person to fail to disclose information to another person where there is a legal duty to disclose the information.

It would be a section 3 offence for example if a doctor failed to disclose to a hospital that certain patients referred by him for treatment are private patients, thereby avoiding a charge for the services provided.

13_. Section 4_ makes it an offence to commit fraud by abuse of one’s position; meaning taking advantage of a position where one is expected to safeguard another’s financial interests. The offence can be committed by omission or by a positive action, so that a failure to act in the interests of another could be caught by section 4, (provided, as in each of the sections 2-4, that the behaviour was dishonest and aimed at making a gain or causing a loss).

14. Section 4 would cover, for example, a case where an employee of a software company uses his position to clone software products with the intention of selling the products to make a profit for himself, or a case where an employee copies his employer’s client database for the purpose for setting up a rival company. It would also cover a case where a person is employed to care for an elderly or disabled person has access to that person’s bank account and abuses his position by transferring funds to invest in a high-risk business venture of his own.
Offences relating to articles for use in frauds

15. Section 6 makes it an offence to possess articles for use in frauds. So far as fraud is concerned, it replaces section 25 of the Theft Act 1968, which makes it an offence for a person to have with him, when not at his place of abode, any article for use in the course of any burglary, theft or cheat.[4] The types of articles that could be caught by the offence include lists of other peoples’ credit card details, or software used for producing blank utility bills.

16. ’For use’’ is a key phrase in both provisions and it requires a general, not a specific, intent to commit fraud to be proved. The crucial difference between the offences is that section 6 also applies to articles found in the offender’s home. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.

17. Section 7 makes it an offence to make or supply articles for use in frauds, and carries a sentence of 10 years. It is designed to catch, for example, those who supply personal financial details for use in frauds to be carried out by other people. It is also designed to catch those who manufacture devices, such as software programmes for generating credit card numbers, which are to be used in frauds by other people.”

Wealthy investors attempt to cash in on class action lawsuits:

Eleven law firms joins solicitors’ committee for Volkswagen group action:

Volkswagen Trial Offers Hedge Funds a Chance to Settle Old Scores:

A lot of people trying to make money out of VW, the real winners are unlikely to be the car owners.

I think owners and solicitors win financially; and society as a whole in disciplining a firm who willingly breached pollution controls for profit.

The concept of a ‘win’ is wrong. There should be no expectation of claimants ending up in a better financial position than they would otherwise have been in.

Feeding the legal profession is a peculiar sideline for people worried about minor potential or notional losses. The legal firms are obviously going to talk up the prospects of a judgment in VW owners’ favour. I have my doubts.

The courts are noted for taking a wider, societal, view when the issue is so lacking in specific detriment. It is presented as a ‘heads you win, tails you don’t lose’ case but the way the lawyers are hedging their bets through the terms of the contingent fee arrangement and the indemnity provisions suggests to me that they do not have a great deal of confidence in their ability to persuade the Court.

For many, of course the hope of one day getting two-thirds of not much is better than nothing just for the effort of filling in some forms and providing some documents.

We have seen reports criticising other companies over emissions. Here are a couple of examples:

It would be interesting to have some independent information about what is happening in the motor industry.

Or just open your eyes and admit they’re ain’t no such thing as a green car.

I had a pedal car when I was young. (It was red, though). Zero emissions. I suppose a solar-powered car would be the nearest we are likely to get, but we still have to think about all the emissions used in its production.

When we become irate about emissions we could also think of all those who choose to buy large-engined high fuel consumption vehicles, those who jet away on polluting aircraft, those who commute on diesel trains and buses—– I believe we need to take a pragmatic view of pollutoin and simply do our best to get it controlled wherever possible. But for all the bluster, I don’t see many people depriving themselves of their normal activities in the name of the planet. Human nature. We need to be regulated, to then support the enforcement of regulation, but we will not achieve perfection.

I confess to having a green car, registered 1994, Euro 1 diesel, that I still use occasionally. I also have a Euro 3, similarly used, but my main car is Euro 6. One way of reducing emissions is to drive fewer miles, of course, and follow your example by walking. 🙂

And Germany is realising that pollution is a big big problem with evidence piling up [including a few days ago evidence of polluted placenta]. It looks like VW may yet pay:

“And courts are increasingly pressuring German cities to clean up their air, with a diesel ban on two major roads in Hamburg and city-wide exclusion zones for older vehicles coming in Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Consumers have reacted to the prospect of more bans by shunning diesel, sending its share of the new car market plunging from 46.5 percent in August 2015 to 32.6 percent last month.

Potentially even more terrifying for carmakers is a law allowing collective class action-style lawsuits that Berlin aims to pass before the statue of limitations runs out for VW.

“Some two million owners could benefit,” Justice Minister Katarina Barley said in May.
Read more at: phys.org/news/2018-09-vw-big-german-court-date.html#jCp”

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Faced with this threat from BMW I think we’ll have to get the HIllman Imp back into production.

It actually seems to have said: “BMW has said it will be forced to close its production sites in the UK, putting 8,000 jobs at risk, if components for Mini and Rolls-Royce cars are caught up in customs delays after Brexit.“. That is not the same sweeping generalisation. Delays to materials will upset just in time production, not just for BMW but many other companies. Up to the UK to solve this in general, and for the EU to help instead of putting obstacles in the way. Negotiations will continue but only be resolved at the last minute – the way negotiations usually work in my experience.

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“The Mini factory in Oxford will shut down for a month after Brexit at the end of March to minimise disruption in case of a no-deal outcome.

Owner BMW said its summer maintenance shutdown had been brought forward to 1 April to reduce any “possible short-term parts-supply disruption”.

“While we believe this worst case scenario is an unlikely outcome, we have to plan for it,” BMW said.

The German firm said it “remained committed” to its UK operations.

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Whatever the merits of this particular case I welcome Which? looking at the possibility of collective action as a simple way of recovering money from companies that behave irresponsibly.

There are plenty of people who have been forced to pay extra for laptops from Currys-PC World, as discussed in another Convo, and if it can be established that the company acted improperly those people deserve their money back if they can provide evidence of purchase, which could be a receipt or credit card statement.

Lesley McEwen says:
20 September 2018

I feel disappointed that while this is a key issue for VW owners, it only applies to vehicles purchased in England and Wales; which excludes Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Given my vehicle was registered via th DVLA in Swansea when it was imported and most likely entered into the UK through a port in England; could someone help me to understand why I am unable to join the claim only because my dealership is located in Scotland?

Thank you in advance.

Lesley – if you read through either the solicitors site or the comments here* you will find that both Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own solicitors who are taking names and will follow on from the , hopefully, successful English legal system case. A sensible cost saving measure.

* Which? might have usefully clarified the matter and italicised the links to these solicitors in the original article as the very reasonable question has been asked at least four times given that there is an awful lot to read.

I bought my car in Scotland / Northern Ireland. Can I join the Group Action?

We’re leading the legal action against VW, Audi, SEAT and Škoda for the emissions scandal in England and Wales.

We’ve a separate claim for those people who purchased or leased vehicles in Scotland due to it being in a different jurisdiction. To register your interest please contact the Slater and Gordon Edinburgh office on VWscotlandclaims@slatergordon.co.uk

If you purchased or leased your vehicle in Northern Ireland, we’re aware that Edwards & Co Solicitors are running claims in that jurisdiction. If you want to instruct them, you can contact them at vwemissionclaimsni.com/the-claim.

Please note that by making you aware of Edwards & Co, we’re not making a recommendation as to who you should instruct. Should you wish to seek alternative representation for your claim against VW in Northern Ireland, you can contact The Law Society of Northern Ireland at https://www.lawsoc-ni.org/ who may be able to assist.


Item 7 gives you a link for action in NI and Scotland who both have their own legal systems. I believe the idea is to let the English case succeed first to save costs.