Sanders Phillips Grossman, a US class action specialist, is today opening a new office in Liverpool to target UK claims arising from the VW emissions scandal. The firm has allied with Chesterfield-based consumer litigation firm Your Lawyers.
The development intensifies keen competition among claimant firms for a slice of the so-called 'dieselgate' litigation. VW has already agreed a $10bn civil settlement in the US but affected drivers in the UK have yet to see any compensation. A deadline of 26 October has been set for consumers to sign up to a claim. The Volkswagen Group says it will vigorously defend UK action over the emissions scandal.
Slater & Gordon, which has teamed up with Leigh Day to run the biggest claim, says it has 55,000 drivers signed up. Slater has no connection with Sanders Phillips Grossman. Your Lawyers in Chesterfield confirmed it has a tieup with Sanders but no more details have yet been disclosed.
The US firm, headquartered in New York but with offices in Seattle, Puerto Rico and California, specialises in group actions against big pharmaceutical companies. Sanders’ website says it has recouped over $1bn for wronged consumers. In January this year, Sanders merged with another US class action firm, Milberg, to form Milberg Tadler Phillips Grossman. Sanders retains its own brand.
Sanders’ founding partner, Glenn Phillips, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. Asked whether his firm was seeking to ‘get in on the act for..a nice payday’, Phillips said: ’No I don’t think that’s correct. We were actually asked to come over here and we’ve had our eye on Europe for a while.
’What we’ve seen over here is a lot of litigations that have happened in the United States that would have an effect on the consumers here in the UK that really haven’t been brought and they should be brought. So we’re just bringing a helping hand with our UK partners.’
Phillips denied that what was described as the ‘US approach’ to litigation would fail here because the UK is a 'less litigious’ society. 'I don’t subscribe to the US approach. I subscribe to the [view that] if someone has been subject to bad behaviour by a corporation, [the corporation] should be held accountable.’