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Diesel Emissions Claims Could Open Up

diesel claims
Mercedes could be the lead case

A recent court case is the first stage of deciding how future Diesel Emissions Claims will be conducted. Historically, diesel emissions claims have been handled individually for each manufacturer, commencing with cases against Volkswagen and Mercedes. Yet, given the commonalities across cases, the current practice appears notably inefficient. There is now contemplation regarding the consolidation of multiple manufacturers’ litigation hearings. This move could expedite proceedings and mitigate legal expenses in upcoming diesel emissions litigation cases. This can potentially open up claims to a large range of Manufacturers all at once.

What Happened?

Representatives involved in the group actions related to the 'Dieselgate' scandal have informed the court during a case management hearing that the litigation is valued at 'billions of pounds.' At the Royal Courts of Justice, four judges presided over the hearing where it was disclosed that there are 1.25 million claims and 1,500 defendants involved in the case.

The class actions, described as a 'juggernaut,' centre around allegations that car buyers were misled about the levels of dangerous emissions produced by diesel vehicles. Group litigation orders have already been granted for claims against Mercedes and BMW vehicles, with expectations of more applications to follow.

The legal actions target various automotive manufacturers, including Mercedes, BMW, Mini, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Renault, and others. The accusations focus on malpractice related to the alleged installation of 'defeat devices' in vehicles registered between 2009 and 2020.

Oliver Campbell KC, representing the claimants, stated that there are 18 claimant firms with an estimated 1,250,000 claims, including 360,000 against Mercedes. Campbell argued that Mercedes should be the 'lead case' due to having the most claimants and significant progress already made with disclosure orders.

However, the defendants, representing some manufacturers, countered by suggesting that a trial on legal issues should precede any determination of a lead case, emphasizing the mammoth scale and unprecedented nature of the litigation. Leigh-Ann Mulcahy KC, representing the defendants, argued that a trial involving Mercedes might not address all issues, and issues may not arise uniformly across cases.

Despite the complexity and scale of the litigation, the court concluded that the March 2024 hearing, initially scheduled for the Mercedes claim, will be extended to five days. This extended hearing will address case management submissions and determine the scope of the scheduled hearings, involving all parties and two additional lead Group Litigation Orders (GLOs). The court acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the litigation, emphasising the need for active case management to prevent disproportionate costs compared to the potentially recoverable sums.

Presiding over the hearing, Dame Victoria Sharp expressed gratitude to all parties and representatives for their approach and conduct throughout the proceedings. The court's decision reflects the awareness of the unique challenges posed by the litigation and the importance of efficient case management in addressing the multitude of legal and technical issues involved.

What Was Concluded

The judges decided that the March hearing, extended to five days, will involve the court determining the scope of the currently scheduled hearings. This comprehensive assessment is expected to include all parties, along with two additional lead Group Litigation Orders (GLOs) as agreed upon or determined. The currently listed Case Management Conference (CMC) is preserved for Mercedes and will address various issues, including matters related to confidentiality.

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