On 18 September 2015 the words Diesel Gate entered into the English language for the very first time.
Diesel Gate refers to the emissions scandal that hit the Volkswagen Group worldwide. The central issue surrounding Diesel Gate was the deliberate and conscious installation by Volkswagen across their brands (Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda and Audi) of software known as a defeat device. This defeat device sought to mask the extent of pollutants coming from a specific type of Volkswagen engine and used across all the Volkswagen brands.
The software was created to know when the engine was being tested specifically for emissions. It was able to distinguish between laboratory test beds and use on the open road. When the engines were being tested the true level of emissions were not recorded but values far less than those being polluted appeared to the testers.
In Ireland alone it is estimated that 125,000 engines across the Volkswagen Group were fitted with this defeat device.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States was the first regulatory authority to investigate claims that Volkswagen had installed defeat device in certain types of their diesel engines. Once a notice issued from the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act in the United States Volkswagen accepted that defeat devices had been installed in their engines. They made this acknowledgement in the United States only.
A whole swathe of litigation then began between regulatory bodies, consumer groups, dealers and car owners against Volkswagen. The litigation gathered pace very quickly and with the assistance of Volkswagen who accepted responsibility to all of the interested parties cases were sent forward to Judge Charles Breyer, Judge of the District Court, San Francisco.
Volkswagen’s lawyers liaised with the lawyers representing all of the various different claiming parties and reached agreement for the settlement of various different claims. In the process of doing this they accepted wrongdoing.
On the 23 September 2015 the Chief Executive of Volkswagen resigned from his position as part of the fall out of the Diesel Gate scandal.
On the 29 September 2015 Volkswagen accepted that some 11 million vehicles worldwide had the defeat device installed. In November 2016 O’Dwyer Solicitors began our first claims against Volkswagen in District Courts throughout the country. In litigating these claims in the District Court car owners who had consulted this office readily accepted that the value of their claim did not exceed €15,000. In response to the initial claims Volkswagen appointed a leading Dublin law firm who on their instruction immediately denied any responsibility for wrongdoing as alleged.
O’Dwyer Solicitors then began to litigate the car owner claims in District Courts.
On the 21 April 2016 Volkswagen announced in the United States that they were to offer substantial compensation to those car owners affected only in the United States. It offered car owners the facility to buy back their car. Nearly 500,000 cars were affected by this.
On the 7 June 2016 O’Dwyer Solicitors obtained from the District Court in Castlebar the first Order for Discovery against Volkswagen. This Order directed Volkswagen to provide all documentary, original technical and expert evidence. It has since been established that Volkswagen failed to comply with the terms of the Order of Castlebar District Court. When the court directed that an expert witness employed by Volkswagen be tendered as an expert witness to assist the court Volkswagen refused to provide the witness to the court in defiance of a court Order. Volkswagen’s lawyers have subsequently walked out of Castlebar District Court alleging that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear a defeat device claim.
This case is currently the subject matter of a Judicial Review to the High Court as brought by Volkswagen.
On the 11 January 2017 Volkswagen United States pleaded guilty to charges brought and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties. Individual Volkswagen executives were charged.
On the 10 March 2017 Volkswagen accepted criminal charges of fraud and miss-selling. The sanction for these felonies will be imposed on Volkswagen on the 21 April 2017.
In the United States Volkswagen Group car owners are now in the process of receiving compensation or having their cars bought back by the company. While provision is being made in the Volkswagen Group accounts for further payments of compensation no such payments have yet been made to any car owner outside of the United States. Throughout the European Union and beyond car owners have to pursue Volkswagen for compensation through litigation in the courts of their own country.
In Ireland Volkswagen have publicly confirmed that any car owner who brings a claim seeking compensation will be pursued for costs by this multi-national company if they do not succeed. While Volkswagen have accepted responsibility for their actions in the United States they have not done so outside of that jurisdiction as of yet.
O’Dwyer Solicitors represent several hundred Volkswagen car owners affected by Diesel Gate. We are bringing claims for compensation for car owners affected. The work that we have undertaken has been widely publicised. We have a large group of very loyal and disgruntled Volkswagen car owners. Their frustration has now grown into anger as many are being forced to litigate claims for cars. If our clients had resided in the United States then they would already be benefiting from Volkswagen’s acknowledgements and compensation would be paid.
Here at O’Dwyer Solicitors we will continue to represent the interests of our clients despite the hard line approach taken by Volkswagen.
If you have a car that is affected by Diesel Gate then Volkswagen or Seat or Skoda or Audi will have written to you alerting you that your car is affected. If you received a letter then we have the ability to represent you against Volkswagen Group.
For further details please complete the questionnaire below.
If you wish to obtain further details or to seek formal legal representation, please feel free to contact us by completing the form below.
In addition to the foregoing we would ask need the following:
- Copy photographic identification i.e. driving licence, passport.
- Copy of utility bill confirming the owners address.
- Copy of the letter issued by Volkswagen to the registered owner.
See also Press Releases on Volkswagen Group:
www.irishtimes.com – Order Against VW
www.thetimes.co.uk – VW Reveals Details
www.rte.ie – VW Castlebar Court
Other links of interest include;