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High stakes in Dieselgate: High Court prepares for landmark Mercedes trial amid emissions scandal

High stakes in Dieselgate: High Court prepares for landmark Mercedes trial amid emissions scandal


The High Court gears up for hearings on 1.2 million vehicle owners' claims, setting trial dates for Mercedes and others in Dieselgate emissions scandal

In a pivotal legal showdown, the High Court is slated to embark on a five-day hearing starting March 11, addressing the legal claims of over 1.2 million vehicle owners entangled in the diesel emissions scandal. Central to these proceedings is the determination of the trial date for Mercedes, accused of utilising defeat devices. Simultaneously, the court will schedule trial dates for at least two, possibly three, other automakers implicated in similar controversies.

Lawyers representing the vehicle owners are pushing for an expedited trial, aiming for a resolution within a year, by February 2025. Conversely, manufacturers' legal teams seek to defer the trial well into 2025. The court will also explore timetabling a trial next year for Ford and potentially for Renault/Nissan and Peugeot Citroen.

These hearings mark a strategic move to streamline claims against 16 major car manufacturers accused of employing prohibited "defeat devices" to manipulate emissions tests. The week's proceedings will encompass not only trial schedules but also discussions on the confidentiality and timetable of pertinent documents related to the use of defeat devices by manufacturers.

In a significant development, Senior Master Cook, following hearings on January 17 and 18, signalled the issuance of Group Litigation Orders (GLOs) in claims against Vauxhall/Opel, Volkswagen/Porsche, Peugeot/Citroën/DS, Jaguar Land Rover, Renault/Nissan, and Volvo. GLOs had previously been granted for the Mercedes, BMW, FCA/Susuki, and Ford cases. Further GLO applications in the Hyundai-Kia, Toyota, and Masda cases are likely to be stayed.

Looking ahead, another High Court hearing is scheduled for October 2024, with the first trial involving Mercedes potentially taking place in February 2025. Notably, law firms spearheading vehicle owners' claims, including Leigh Day, are actively pursuing legal actions against nine of the implicated manufacturer groups.

As the High Court gears up for this landmark trial, the outcome could set a precedent for the broader Dieselgate scandal, shaping the future landscape of emissions-related litigation in the automotive industry.