How Long Does a Diesel Emissions Claim Take?

Many people in the UK can join the group litigation and bring a diesel emissions 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 approx £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 a diesel claim to be paid out?

Dieselgate Scandal & Cheat Devices

The revelation of the diesel emission scandal in recent years has placed several automotive companies under scrutiny, leading many affected vehicle owners to make a claim for compensation.

Cheat Devices

Defeat devices in the context of the Dieselgate scandal refers to a piece of software or hardware that was intentionally designed and installed in diesel-powered vehicles to manipulate emissions testing results.

The Dieselgate scandal, which emerged in 2015, primarily involved Volkswagen (VW) but also affected other car manufacturers to varying degrees.

Here’s a breakdown of what a defeat device is and its role in the Dieselgate scandal:

  1. Purpose: The primary purpose of the cheat devices also known as defeat devices was to ensure that diesel vehicles passed nox emissions tests conducted by regulatory agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States and their counterparts in other countries.
    When a vehicle was undergoing emissions tests, the defeat device would alter the engine’s performance in such a way that it emitted significantly lower levels of harmful pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), than it would during real-world driving conditions.
  2. How It Worked: When the vehicle detected that it was undergoing nox emissions testing (usually by recognising specific parameters of the testing environment, such as the absence of steering wheel movement or the constant speed of the vehicle), the defeat device would engage a “clean” or “low-emission” mode.
    In this mode, the vehicle engine operated differently, producing reduced emissions that would meet the regulatory emissions standards. However, during regular driving on the road, the cheat device would disengage this mode, allowing the vehicle to perform as it normally would, but emitting higher levels of pollutants.
  3. Deception and Regulatory Noncompliance: The use of cheat devices amounted to a deliberate act of deception and regulatory noncompliance by car manufacturers.
    It allowed them to sell vehicles that appeared to meet emissions standards but were, in reality, vehicles may have been emitting pollutants at levels far higher than legal standards allowed. This deception not only misled vehicle owners but also had serious environmental and public health consequences.
  4. Legal Consequences: The exposure of cheat devices in Volkswagen and other car manufacturer vehicles led to legal action, massive recalls, and significant financial penalties. Volkswagen, in particular, faced substantial fines and settlements in the United States and Europe, amounting to billions of dollars.
  5. Impact on the Industry: The Dieselgate scandal had a profound impact on the car industry. It resulted in increased scrutiny of emissions tests and compliance procedures, stricter regulations, and greater emphasis on transparency and accountability.
    It also highlighted the importance of improving NOx emissions control technologies and transitioning to cleaner and more environmentally friendly vehicles.

In summary, a cheat device in the context of the Dieselgate scandal was a mechanism intentionally designed to manipulate emissions testing results, allowing vehicles to pass regulatory standards while emitting higher levels of pollutants during real-world driving.

This unethical and illegal practice had far-reaching consequences for the automotive industry, leading to legal action, hefty fines, and a heightened focus on emissions compliance and environmental responsibility.

If you want to start your diesel emissions claim or have already done so, one of your foremost questions might be:

How long will the diesel emissions claim take?

Let’s dive into the factors influencing the duration of these diesel emissions claims.

Complexity of the Case

Each eligible diesel emissions claim is unique, and the duration largely depends on its complexity. If the diesel claim is successful where the evidence is undeniable and liability is clear might be settled within a few months.

However, more complex diesel car claims, especially those involving multiple parties or disputed facts, can take longer, possibly years, to reach a resolution with the law firm.

The complexity of a diesel emissions claim arises from the intricate technical and legal aspects involved in proving and pursuing such diesel cases.

Diesel emissions litigation typically revolves around allegations that manufacturers, often in the automotive industry, engaged in deceptive practices related to emissions tests and environmental regulations involving NOx emissions where a defeat device was installed.

These group claims necessitate a deep understanding of emissions standards, control technologies, regulatory compliance, and the often evolving legal landscape. Moreover, the sheer volume of data, technical documentation, and expert testimony required to build a compelling diesel claim case adds to the intricacy.

Successfully navigating a diesel emissions claim often involves collaboration between legal experts, environmental engineers, and experts in regulatory compliance to uncover the truth, which can be a formidable challenge, particularly in high-stakes law cases.

The Volume of Diesel Vehicle Claims

In the wake of dieselgate scandal, many car manufacturers in England and Wales faced a barrage of complaints from consumers who thought their vehicles may not comply with emissions standards, and that they could have been affected by the dieselgate.

A high volume of complaints can result in administrative delays. If group actions are in play, the timeline might be extended as law firms consolidate and process multiple legal claims into a group court case.

Negotiation Periods

Once a diesel emissions claim is filed, there’s typically a negotiation period between the claimant’s law firm and the legal team of the diesel vehicle car manufacturer.

If both parties can reach a mutual agreement during this period, the compensation claim could be settled quickly. However, if the negotiations stall or break down, it can lead to protracted legal battles.

Legal Claims Court Proceedings

If a settlement cannot be reached during negotiations, the group actions cases could proceed to court. This phase can extend the duration significantly of eligible diesel emission claims.

Court dates in England and Wales, witness testimonies, expert evaluations, and other legal procedures could make this a lengthy process.


Even after a judgment is reached, the losing party has the right to appeal. Appeals can further extend the timeline by several months or even years, especially if the group diesel claim moves up to a higher court case.

Appeals in diesel emission court cases can be a pivotal aspect of the legal process, potentially influencing the outcome of the group case and determining whether a verdict is upheld, reversed, or modified.

When one party involved in a diesel emission case is dissatisfied with the trial court’s decision, they have the option to appeal to a higher court. Here’s an overview of what can happen during the appeals process:

Filing an Appeal:

The party seeking an appeal, known as the appellant, must file a formal appeal within a specified time frame following the trial court’s decision. They must present legal arguments highlighting errors or issues in the trial proceedings that they believe warrant a review.

Review by the Appellate Court:

An appellate court reviews the trial court’s proceedings, including evidence, legal arguments, and the judge’s decisions. The appellate court assesses whether errors in the trial court’s handling of the case may have influenced the outcome.

  1. Possible Outcomes:
    • Affirmation: The appellate court may affirm the trial court’s decision, meaning they agree with the original verdict or judgment. In this case, the appellant’s appeal is denied, and the original decision stands.
    • Reversal: If the appellate court finds significant errors or issues that affected the fairness of the trial, they may reverse the decision. This can result in a new trial or a modification of the original judgment.
    • Remand: In some cases, the appellate court may remand the case back to the trial court with specific instructions or for further proceedings. This typically occurs when there are legal issues that need clarification or additional evidence to consider.
    • Modification: The appellate court may modify the trial court’s judgment or decision, altering certain aspects while upholding others.
  2. Impact on Parties: The outcome of an appeal can significantly impact the parties involved. If the appellant’s appeal is successful, they may achieve a more favourable outcome, while the appellee (the opposing party) may face a retrial or new judgment. Conversely, if the appeal is denied, the original verdict or judgment stands.
  3. Further Appeals: In some cases, either party may choose to appeal the appellate court’s decision to a higher court, such as a state supreme court or, in the United States, the Supreme Court. However, such appeals are typically granted selectively and focus on important legal principles.
  4. New Trials: In some cases, if the appellate court orders a new trial, the entire legal process starts over. This can be a lengthy and costly endeavour, as both parties will need to prepare their cases anew and present them to a different trial court.
  5. Legal Precedent: The outcome of an appeal can also set a legal precedent, which means that the ruling can be used as a reference for future similar cases. This can have far-reaching implications for other diesel emission cases, potentially impacting how they are litigated and decided.
  6. Finality: If an appeal is unsuccessful, the verdict from the appellate court becomes final, and further legal recourse is limited. However, if the losing party believes there were significant legal errors, they may explore other avenues, such as appealing to higher appellate courts or even the Supreme Court, if applicable.

In diesel emission court cases, appeals play a vital role in ensuring the integrity of the legal process and providing opportunities for parties to challenge decisions they believe to be erroneous.

The outcome of an appeal can have wide-ranging consequences, affecting not only the specific case at hand but also setting legal precedent and influencing how similar cases are litigated in the future.

Therefore, appeals in diesel emission court cases are a crucial part of the legal system’s checks and balances, ultimately aiming to deliver fair and just outcomes.

Settlement Distribution

After a settlement is reached or a judgment is made in favour of the claimants, there’s often a waiting period for the distribution of compensation for diesel emissions cases.

This could be a complex process, especially when law firms are representing hundreds of thousands of vehicle owners in group actions where compensation needs to be divided among numerous eligible diesel vehicle claimants.

Tips for a Speedier Diesel Emissions Claim Process

Gather All Necessary Car Manufacturer Documents:

Make sure you have all relevant registration numbers and documents related to your new or second hand diesel vehicles, including purchase receipts, service records, and any correspondence with the car manufacturer.

This will help to prove if your diesel claim could be eligible for potential compensation which could be worth up to £10,000.

These will help build a strong case with the law firms with a no win no fee diesel emission claim.

Engage a Specialised Legal Claims Authorised and Regulated Law Firm:

It’s important to apply using a diesel claim company that are linked to a law firm specialising in no win no fee diesel emission claims can significantly expedite the process. They’re familiar with the intricacies of such court cases against a car manufacturer that allegedly installed defeat devices in their diesel engine vehicles and can guide you effectively.

We work with a panel of solicitors that are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and work on a no win no fee basis.

Stay Updated

Regularly communicate with your legal team to stay updated on your vehicle’s diesel claim progress and provide any additional information on your car that your legal team might need promptly.

In conclusion

The duration of a diesel emission claim can vary widely based on several factors. While some claims might be resolved within a few months, others can stretch on for years.

Being prepared, staying informed, and seeking expert legal guidance is crucial to navigating the claim process efficiently.