Volkswagen has agreed to pay £193m to more than 90,000 drivers in England and Wales in an out-of-court settlement related to the installation of emission cheating devices in its diesel vehicles.
Some 91,000 claimants are to receive average payments of more than £2,100 each after joining a class action law suit that the alleged German car maker had misled them when it installed ‘defeat devices’ in its vehicles that allowed them to pass emissions tests they would have otherwise failed.
A lawsuit against the carmaker, which had been set to go to January and had been billed as the biggest ever consumer group action brought before the English courts, was dismissed by the High Court on Wednesday afternoon after the settlement was reached.
The lawsuit was just one of many Volkswagen has been battling in the wake of the 2015 ‘dieselgate’ scandal, which revealed how the firm had been systematically cheating emissions tests and misleading consumers and regulators over the environmental footprint of its vehicles.
The company is estimated to have spent more than €30bn in legal fees and pay-outs to customers, of which half has been in the US.
Volkswagen did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement but said the decision to settle had been “prudent” from a commercial perspective, in order to avoid the legal costs of a six-month trial and possible appeals.
However, it said it wanted to “sincerely apologise to [its] customers for the two mode software installed in the EA180 vehicles”.
“The Volkswagen Group will continue to work to rebuild the trust of their customers here in England & Wales,” a statement published after the settlement was agreed and reads. “This settlement represents an important further stage in that process.”
Philip Haarmann, chief legal officer at the company, said: “The Volkswagen Group is pleased that we have been able to conclude this long running litigation in England and Wales. The settlement is another important milestone as the Volkswagen Group continues to move beyond the deeply regrettable events leading up to September 2015.”
Bozena Michalowska and Shazia Yamin, lead solicitors at Leigh Day law firm, which represented the claimants, said: “We are pleased that Volkswagen has repeated its sincere apology for the use of the prohibited two mode software,” they said. “We are delighted that this case has finally been settled for our clients and the claims in the NOx emissions litigation. We have been unwavering in our belief in our clients’ case, that is why we have fought long and hard for this outcome.”