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PEOPIL members lead the way in Volkswagen defeat device litigation

Boz Michalowska, a Partner in the UK law firm Leigh Day, and Shazia Yamin, Associate Solicitor , who were appointed by the Court as Joint Lead Solicitors with Slater and Gordon, in the Volkswagen litigation, have secured a very important judgment from the High Court of England and Wales which will impact on the class actions being pursued in other European Countries.



PEOPIL members Carlos Villacorta (Spain), Stefan Dangel (Germany) and Liam Moloney (Ireland) are also spearheading VW defeat device class actions in their Countries.


When 13-07-2020

The case centred on the trial of two preliminary issues which arose in the context of a large group action brought by about 91,000 owners of VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat cars.  All of these vehicles used a VW diesel engine with type designation EA189. 


The UK litigation mirrors litigation brought by disaffected VW owners around the world, a result of which has often been described as the “VW Emissions Scandal”, which broke initially in the USA in September 2015.  The main claim against VW is that the engine had a software function which enabled it effectively to recognise when it was being tested for compliance with EU emissions standards, which allegedly resulted in the vehicles emitting artificially less NOx under test conditions.



In the US, VW admitted that the software in the engine constituted a “defeat device” for the purposes of US law, and that without the use of such a device the US emissions standards tests could not have been passed.


The preliminary issues were tried in front of Mr Justice Waksman in the High Court and took over eight days with a lengthy judgement delivered on 9th April 2020.


The Judge held as follows:


  • That the affected vehicles contained a defeat device under the applicable law


  • That the High Court of England and Wales was bound by the decision of the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) that the affected vehicles contained a defeat device and that is was an abuse process for the Defendants to seek to collaterally attack the decision of the KBA by denying that the vehicles contained a defeat device. The Defendants are seeking permission to appeal the Judgment.


Speaking about the important judgment and its consequences for the large group action in the England and Wales, Ms Shazia Yamin said today “we are delighted to have persuaded Mr Justice Waksman that the software fitted to the affected vehicles constitutes a “defeat device”..  We welcome these findings, which will strengthen Claimants’ hands in the forthcoming litigation to assess damages for the wrongdoings done by Volkswagen and the other Defendants in the litigation”.