A class action lawsuit covering over 50,000 UK owners of Volkswagen cars has begun in the High Court.
Lawyers are seeking compensation over a diesel-emissions cheating scandal that has engulfed the automaker since 2015.
The German company has offered to fix UK vehicles, and has said it broke no British laws and that drivers suffered no loss so it has not offered additional compensation or buy-backs. VW has said that about 11 million cars worldwide and 1.2 million in the UK were fitted with software that cheated diesel-emissions tests.
The three-day hearing will study claims managed collectively under a Group Litigation Order (GLO) and will set a deadline for claimants to sign up to what could be the largest group action in British legal history.
In America, VW agreed to pay up to $25 billion to settle claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and offered to buy back 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles. The automaker has not reached a similar deal in Europe, where it faces billions of euros in claims.
UK law firm Slater and Gordon represents more than 40,000 claimants in Britain and alleges that VW deceived people into buying cars that breached emissions regulations by installing illegal engine management software designed to mask true pollution levels.
“The lawyers will argue that VW profited by lying about the compliance of their cars and betrayed the trust of consumers who thought they were purchasing a car that met emissions standards and which was fit to be sold to UK customers when this was not the case,” the firm said in a statement.