What is the claim?

The claims that the proposed groups will allege are as follows:

  • that the vehicles are not of satisfactory quality;
  • that the manufacturer breached EU law by failing to meet the regulatory limits for NOx emissions; and
  • deceit or fraudulent misrepresentation, in that manufacturers made representations to consumers that the vehicles complied with the relevant regulations (when in fact they did not);
  • if the vehicles were bought with finance supplied by the manufacturer, our clients will claim for the cost of the finance on the basis that an ‘unfair relationship’ arises out of the credit agreement in circumstances in which the manufacturer knew that its vehicles did not meet the requirements to be registered on the road, but our clients did not;
  • In addition: our clients will claim for redress under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, which prohibit certain kinds of behaviour by traders, and can mean that damages are assessed as a percentage of the purchase price of the vehicle.


Manufacturers’ responses to allegations of emissions cheating have ranged from outright denial, to arguing that the defeat devices were permitted by virtue of exemptions in the emissions regulations.

The exemption commonly relied upon by manufacturers is that which permits the use of defeat devices where it is justified to “protect the engine against damage or accidents and to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle”. However, the European Court of Justice has recently confirmed the narrow scope of this exemption, clarifying that it only applies to devices which are justified in so far as “[they] help protect the engine against sudden and exceptional damage”.

This decision invalidates the arguments of many manufacturers that defeat devices are permitted to prevent some gradual or de minimis effect on the engine (for example to prevent the ageing or clogging up of the engine). Such factors do not constitute damage under the regulations and therefore the presence of a defeat device to prevent such things is not justified.

Click here to read the full judgment.

Click here to read more about the laws and methods used by manufacturers.