TWO motorists from the North East have joined a group to sue Mercedes over their role in the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal.

In the scandal, Mercedes is alleged to have used defeat devices to avoid complying with the law regarding diesel car emissions.

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Redcar resident, Mark Yes and Bishop Auckland local Mark Murphy are working with national consumer rights law firm Slater and Gordon to bring the claim. The claim is expected to become a group action litigation, with tens of thousands of affected consumers working together to hold Mercedes to account.

Affected diesel Mercedes vehicles were made between 2008 and 2018, and drivers can join the claim whether they purchased their affected vehicle new or second hand.

It is estimated that 600,000 Mercedes vehicles in the UK may have been affected, with a potential one million individuals able to make a claim. 

Following the emissions scandal, Mercedes recalled vehicles in order to provide them with a software update known as a ‘fix’ to make the vehicles comply with emissions regulations.

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Mr Yes, a claimant from Redcar said: "I was shocked to learn of Mercedes’ use of defeat devices in their diesel cars and am keen that all of us who have been let down by Mercedes should receive the compensation we are due.

“It was especially disappointing to see that Mercedes colluded with other car manufacturers to suppress technology that could have reduced the vehicles’ emissions and protected the environment.”

Mr Murphy from Bishop Auckland added: “After my vehicle received the 'Fix' from Mercedes I experienced regular breakdowns until I had the Nitrous Oxide sensors replaced. As a hospital medical engineer using the vehicle for work this disrupted not just my life but also the treatment of patients."

Gareth Pope, the lawyer in charge of the claim at Slater and Gordon, said: “Our clients will allege that they have been deceived into purchasing these polluting vehicles for more than they were worth. As part of the deception, our clients will also allege that Mercedes participated in a cartel with other German manufacturers, including Volkswagen, to suppress the development and implementation of cleaner emissions technology in order to maximise their profits.”

In June 2018, Mercedes was found by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) to have installed cheating software in their diesel engines to avoid regulatory requirements and was forced to recall 774,000 vehicles across Europe.

These ‘defeat devices’ limited emissions during testing, underrepresenting the true emissions released on the road. This resulted in Mercedes diesel engines not complying with regulations on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

The KBA also ordered Mercedes to recall approximately 90,000 affected vehicles in England and Wales, as well as Mercedes issuing voluntary recall notices.

Despite all of this, Mercedes has expressed its intention to fight the claims launched in the United Kingdom, forcing UK customers to take Mercedes to court in an attempt to secure compensation.

A spokesperson for Mercedes Benz said: “In our view, the emission control functionalities objected to in the administrative orders by KBA are permissible. Nonetheless, Mercedes-Benz has implemented the recall measures ordered by the KBA and undertaking voluntary measures for other Diesel-powered vehicles in order to reduce on average NOx emissions in real driving.

“Our vehicles continue to have valid registration from the relevant authorities. The vehicles are not subject to any impairment in terms of use or functional capability. This also applies against the backdrop of the recalls that have been ordered by the KBA.

“Our track record in Germany demonstrates our strong legal position. We see essential points of our legal opinion confirmed by the numerous rulings in the German regional and higher regional courts. The decisions are almost unanimously in our favour. The German Higher Regional Courts alone have issued more than 800 rulings in our favour and only two against the company."

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