After the billions in America were compared, compensation for Mercedes drivers in Great Britain suddenly became an issue for the Stuttgart-based company. The plaintiffs’ attorneys speak of “the highest volume in Scottish legal history”.
Dhe diesel scandal has moved people in Germany for five years. But the subject is only just picking up speed in Great Britain, and Daimler has recently taken center stage. The reason for this is that several consumer law firms, including the listed Slater and Gordon, are preparing class actions for Mercedes drivers who are hoping for damages from the Stuttgart manufacturer.
If you believe their statements, the dimension sounds huge at first. It is about the class action “with the highest volume in Scottish legal history,” said a Scottish plaintiff recently. In other parts of the country too, lawyers are not stingy with superlatives. There is talk of a million diesel drivers in England and Wales and £ 10,000 possible compensation – per vehicle. So does Daimler have to expect to raise another billion euros for its customers?
It may be that the British are launching some class actions, one signals in Stuttgart. But what does that mean? In addition, there is the statement from the group known from all Diesel proceedings: “We consider the claims made to be unfounded and will defend ourselves against group action with all legal means.”
Not a word about the admission of guilt
Just two weeks ago, however, Daimler had given in once: In North America, Daimler reached a settlement with the authorities and consumers in order to get rid of a number of procedures for possible exhaust gas manipulation on diesel engines. The settlement will cost Daimler roughly two billion euros, provided the competent authorities and courts approve it. This can take a few more weeks. Daimler does not want to comment on this beforehand, which is why it remains unclear whether an admission of guilt by the car manufacturer is part of the comparison. Since only around a third of the total amount is due to the class action lawsuit of the Mercedes drivers, this could lead to the conclusion that the payment should be understood more as a goodwill rather than an admission of guilt.
British law firms do not dwell on such details. The fact that Daimler paid a lot of money in America gives them a boost to their recruitment of complacent diesel drivers. In any case, the VW case has served as a blueprint since spring. At that time, the High Court in London found that the company had installed inadmissible defeat devices in its EA189 diesel engine that did not correctly reflect the emission values. Because the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) also accuses Mercedes of having used such shutdown software, and Daimler even paid a fine of 870 million euros in 2019 because of the diesel scandal, Mercedes now appears to be a possible target for the litigation industry in Great Britain.
Nevertheless, the high number of possible plaintiffs mentioned in the UK media seems questionable. At the instigation of the KBA, Daimler initiated a recall for its Mercedes cars, which, according to the authority from Flensburg, show manipulated emission values. But the total volume of the recall only affected 1.4 million cars for all of Europe, so that in Great Britain, at most, a low six-digit number of vehicles could be affected.
Upon request, Daimler did not want to provide any information as to whether and to what extent provisions were made. Because: “The publication of our assessments could influence the result of the proceedings.” In Stuttgart, the comparability with the proceedings in North America is questioned. It is not just a question of other cars with completely differently designed exhaust systems. The legal framework and certification processes are also completely different from those in Europe.