An Introduction To Diesel Emissions Claims
Diesel emissions claims came about as many car manufacturers have been using software programmed to cheat testing. As a result, the reported emissions output of these cars was way less than in reality.
The vehicles affected were made in the period of 2008 and 2019. While these are the vehicles that have been initially uncovered to hold this defeat device, it has recently been claimed that Mercedes has installed similar technology into a number of their diesel vehicles. Mercedes has been ordered to recall around 90,000 vehicles across England and Wales.
An average of £8,500 in compensation is estimated for each claim. Some law firms estimate much higher, but these numbers are contentious. The action could possibly total up to £10.2 billion across the UK. This would make it one of the biggest group actions ever seen in the UK.
Can I Claim?
People who purchased a diesel car between 2008 and 2019 could potentially be eligible for a refund due to the scandal. The timing of the litigation varies depending on the brand of the car. Currently, Mercedes seem to be in the spotlight, soon to be followed by BMW, Vauxhall, Ford, Renault and Seat. Prominent claims company, TheClaimsGuide.com, have recently started to register claims against Mercedes.
Current and Previous Mercedes Owners can instantly find out if they are eligible by giving the car registration number, plus a few more details like the date they bought the car. Mercedes emissions claims are being litigated on a no-win, no fee basis.
Customers have lost out for the following reasons:
- The increased Nitrogen Dioxide levels are harmful to children, adults, and the environment
- Customers may have experienced higher fuel bills and maintenance costs
- The performance of these vehicles was negatively affected
In The Spotlight – Mercedes
As mentioned, Mercedes seem to be in the spotlight at this moment in time. In 2018, Daimler – owner of Mercedes-Benz – was ordered by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) to recall about 670,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles with diesel engines in Europe.
It followed reports KBA had found that the software in some Mercedes diesel vehicles was allegedly artificially limiting emissions during testing – meaning that emissions produced in real-world driving conditions were higher than they should be to comply with regulations. Daimler has appealed against the KBA’s findings.
Law firms formally started legal proceedings against Mercedes in England in 2020. Since then many firms have joined or are preparing cases. No court hearings have taken place so far and no trial date has been set.
Daimler argues the claims brought by UK law firms are “without merit” and says it will “vigorously defend” against them or any group action.
Before You Join
If you are thinking of making a claim, as with all legal action, there are many points you should first consider…
You need a law firm to start a claim. It is almost impossible to claim on your own
These are complicated legal proceedings that require technical expert opinion to establish facts. If you were to try to bring a claim yourself, the costs would be too high, which you wouldn’t get back if the decision went against you.
So joining a group legal action may be the only viable option. Even then there’s no guarantee of winning. But these claims are generally litigated on a no win no fee basis.
It covers vehicles made from 2008 to 2019 bought on finance or outright
In general, vehicles made from about 2008 to about 2019 by roughly 20 brands are included in the current legal actions. You can sign up for claims for multiple vehicles. It is possible other manufacturers might be included in future.
Law firms may still take you on if you leased or bought the vehicle on finance, bought the car second hand or new, you no longer own the vehicle, or it was a company car (as long as the contract was in your name).
It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to claim if you bought the vehicle in a country outside of the United Kingdom.
It’s very quick and easy to check if you are eligible to claim
If you want to sign up, there are firms that will take your details for various car brands. Currently, law firms are litigating against Mercedes in particular. However, many will also take details for other carmakers, but won’t necessarily start litigating straight away.
For example, TheClaimsGuide.com allow you to make an emissions claim against Mercedes instantly or log your details for other car brands with the intent of contacting you when they can process claims for that car brand. If you want to make a claim against Mercedes, all you need to do is enter your vehicle’s number plate and you’ll be told instantly if your car or van is one of the models potentially affected.
Signing up is free – but not risk-free
As claims are litigated on a no win no fee basis, you won’t have to pay anything upfront to join. However, if you do join and the claim is successful, somewhere between a third and a half of the payout will go to the law firm. Unfortunately, the exact fee isn’t very transparent for most firms, and there are sometimes hidden costs.
If a claim is not successful, you’re unlikely to have to pay anything, but it’s not impossible. If a court ruled in favour of the manufacturer, you could technically be liable for its legal costs. In practice, this would likely be covered by the law firm’s ‘ATE’ also known as ‘after the event’ insurance – but this cover will be capped, so it’s not bulletproof. Most law firms have, or will take out, sufficient ATE cover to protect you from having to pay legal costs. Once again, this is unlikely an issue but technically possible.
You have 14 days to cancel your claim if you change your mind
Generally, firms will give you two weeks to cancel the agreement without having to pay anything. You may want to use this time to review any paperwork sent after you signed up for the firm’s services. Make sure you study the small print and you know what you’ve signed up for.
If you sign up for a claim and withdraw after the first two weeks, in some cases you may be liable for legal costs – depending on the firm’s terms and conditions and how far your case has progressed. To be on the safe side, only commit past 14 days if you’re committed to seeing the case through. You will have to provide copies of proof of ownership documents, such as your purchase/lease invoice or any finance agreement you took out.
Payouts might end up being £1,000s – but compensation is not guaranteed
This kind of group legal action claims are largely untested in the English and Welsh courts and there’s no guarantee any of the current claims will be successful.
Many firms say that, if the claims are successful, drivers could get several thousands of pounds in compensation due to paying too much for vehicles that didn’t meet emissions standards. PGMBM suggests you might be able to claim up to £20,000 for a Mercedes claim.
But some law firms say payouts aren’t likely to be this high. Firstly, it is possible that any case could be settled out of court for a fraction of the original claim value. Also, the court will have to look at the actual financial loss each claimant has suffered as a result of the scandal (for example, did they actually pay more than they otherwise would have for the vehicle).
Claims could take many years
Cases of this type may take five years or longer to progress through court. However, there are many factors that vary how long it takes. For example, if the car manufacturer decides to settle it could be much quicker. If you claim you should get updates from the law firm you claim through.
The VW Group case is the most advanced. They had their first hearing in 2019 however they haven’t made it to full trial yet. The date is currently set for January 2023. If VW loses it may be able to appeal, which would stretch proceedings out further.
Claims are for those who claim to have lost out due to the emissions flaws
This is likely related to some kind of financial loss. This may include:
- If you paid more for the vehicle than you otherwise would have
- You wouldn’t have bought it at all had you known about the alleged emissions flaws
- You sold it on but got less for it than you would have had it not been affected.
Some firms might ask you about this when you sign up. They can ask to confirm that you would not have acquired your vehicle, or would have paid less for it if you had known that it was fitted with emissions cheating software.
Ultimately, if you believe that you have been mis-sold your car, the downsides to joining an emissions claim are relatively limited. The possibility of losing money, though not impossible, is slim.