London court set to give go-ahead to 'dieselgate' group driver lawsuit

FILE PHOTO - A VW sign is seen outside a Volkswagen dealership in London, Britain, November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File photo

LONDON (Reuters) - A London court has indicated that it will give the green light to a group lawsuit by around 60,000 English car owners against Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE, Europe's largest carmaker, over the "dieselgate" scandal.

Lawyers for Slater and Gordon and Leigh Day said on Thursday.

they had been awarded a joint legal lead in the lawsuit, which will be the largest in English legal history, subject to any further applications by other law firms.

Volkswagen (VW) has said about 11 million cars worldwide were fitted with software that cheated U.S. diesel emissions tests designed to limit noxious car fumes and carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution. About 1.2 million VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT vehicles are affected in Britain.

English lawyers are bringing a series of allegations, including that VW manufacturers defrauded drivers, that “defeat devices” - engine management software designed to mask pollution levels - broke EU rules, that a VW software fix has caused other problems with cars and that drivers overpaid for vehicles.

The German company denies the allegations and has said it will defend itself robustly. It says it broke no English laws, that drivers here suffered no loss and that the legal proceedings are premature and unfounded.

The court application for a so-called Group Litigation Order (GLO), a key step in the litigation, is expected to be finalised after the Easter break, a spokeswoman for one law firm said.

The first pre-trial hearing is expected in early 2019.

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Adrian Croft