How Long Does a Diesel Emission Claim Take?

Many people in the UK are joining the group litigation claim against major car manufacturers, which first surfaced in 2015 when Volkswagen was found to have used “defeat devices” to cheat emissions testing. The average payout from that case was £2,100 – but it took several years for compensation to come about. So, as the lawsuit against other vehicle brands is now underway, how long will it take for diesel claims to be paid out?

What Is Dieselgate?

Back in 2015, the Dieselgate scandal became public when German carmaker Volkswagen was discovered to have used “defeat devices” to unlawfully “pass” emissions tests. These illegal devices enabled diesel vehicles to falsely lower their emissions during tests; however, when driving under normal road circumstances, these emissions were dramatically higher, posing health risks to the public and harming the environment.

In fact, the affected vehicles are said to have emitted up to 40x the levels of nitrogen oxides that were released during tests. To make matters worse, Volkswagen was found to have used emissions-cheating technology in over 10 million of its vehicles worldwide.

Since its emergence in 2015, VW Dieselgate has been among the most expensive corporate scandals in documented history, with the company spending over £26 billion in legal fees and compensation payouts to consumers.  

Volkswagen’s implication raised suspicions of other vehicle manufacturers, many of which have since been checked. Many diesel cars and vans made by other brands have also been found to exceed legal emissions limits. Now, joint litigation claims have been launched against a number of other carmakers, including:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Chrysler
  • Citroen
  • Fiat
  • Ford    
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar
  • Kia
  • Land Rover
  • Mercedes
  • MINI   
  • Nissan
  • Peugeot
  • Porsche
  • Renault
  • SEAT   
  • Skoda
  • Vauxhall
  • Volvo  

Consumers who bought, financed or leased a diesel car or van (either brand-new or second-hand) from any of the named manufacturers between 2007 and 2020 may be eligible to join the claim – and they could be owed several thousand pounds.

How Long Does It Take to Receive Compensation for a Diesel Claim?

Being a hefty legal case, there’s due process with the diesel emissions claims. Currently, the joint litigation granted by the High Court is in the investigation stage – law firms are working to prove that the named car manufacturers are guilty of using defeat device technology to cheat emissions testing – and to what extent (the number of affected vehicles, for example).

Based on the previous case against Volkswagen, law firms have come up with an estimated timeframe, although this is not set in stone. The original Volkswagen emissions scandal first began in September 2015, when the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the Volkswagen Group.

Later, an action group with over 25,000 vehicle owners in the UK sought compensation from VW amounting to £3,000–4,000 per vehicle in January 2017. Finally, in May 2022, the German automaker settled the UK class action claims, which amounted to £193 million paid out to over 90,000 drivers. So, it took around five years for compensation to be awarded.

Due to the high-profile nature of the joint litigation, there’s no determined time that it’ll take to receive compensation – nor is compensation guaranteed (although it’s very likely, given the success of the case against VW). The estimated timeframe can also depend on the legal firm a claimant uses and how strong each individual’s claim is. Generally, though most law firms estimate it could take a number of years – many law firms estimate approximately five years for any compensation to be forthcoming.

After launching a claim with a diesel emissions law firm, a claimant will receive a response within around four weeks. Then the law firm keeps the claimant updated on the progress as the investigation unfolds – usually every few weeks to every few months, or when there’s news regarding the case.