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BMW emissions FAQs

Find out more information on the BMW emissions claim.

Find out more information on the BMW and MINI emissions claim.

Leigh Day is investigating a potential group claim against BMW over an alleged ‘defeat device’ fitted on some of their cars in order to artificially reduce emissions to pass EU tests.

Monitoring shows that when the vehicles are driven on the road, they emit many times more levels of toxic Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) gases than under test conditions.

This is extremely damaging, as increased levels of NOx contribute to air pollution, which is reported to be the largest environmental risk to UK public health and is linked to as many as 64,000 early deaths a year.

We believe that defeat devices are unlawful under UK law and we are planning on bringing legal claims for compensation on behalf of consumers who purchased those vehicles that were affected.

The claims are being investigated on behalf of people who leased or owned BMW diesel vehicles. The claims could be worth thousands of pounds for each owner/lessee.

If you bought or leased a diesel BMW vehicle, your vehicle may be affected and you may be able to apply to join the claim. Please complete our online vehicle registration checker below to confirm whether your vehicle may be affected.

We are fighting for compensation on behalf of owners of BMW vehicles who we believe were deliberately misled over the environmental performance of their vehicles.

This concerns BMW’s use of alleged ‘defeat devices’ in some of their diesel cars, aimed at artificially reducing NOx emissions to levels which pass regulatory tests.

A number of tests have found that some BMW vehicles were producing NOx emissions that were higher than the permitted levels.  

We believe that the ‘defeat devices’ used in the vehicles are unlawful under UK law and consequently, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of unlawfully polluting vehicles still on the roads in the UK.

We believe that owners of the affected vehicles should be compensated because they were mis-sold these vehicles, which were advertised as being more environmentally friendly with lower NOx emissions.

Increased levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions are harmful to the environment and to the health of children and adults.

This case is in its early stages, but we expect it to follow the trajectory of the other emissions cases, including VW and Mercedes.

We have  secured funding from a litigation funder to ensure we have the resources available to instruct the best experts and barristers and to have a large enough legal team to ensure that our clients get the best service possible.

If you have owned or leased a diesel BMW vehicle since September 2009, it is possible that your vehicle may be affected. Please complete our online vehicle registration checker to confirm whether your vehicle may be affected.

Please use our online vehicle registration checker to confirm whether your vehicle may be affected.

This claim only relates to diesel vehicles.

The VIN is a 17-digit number starting with a three-letter code. You should be able to find the VIN at various locations on your car. Frequently you can find your VIN number in one of the following locations: on the driver's side door jamb (sometimes on the passenger's side), under the windscreen on the driver's side, near the firewall of the vehicle, or on the steering column.

You do not need to have any documents to start your claim with Leigh Day.

At some stage we will ask you to provide us with documents regarding the purchase of your vehicle, including, for example, the contract of sale or other proof of purchase, finance agreement and/or lease agreement. If you have these documents, please place them somewhere safe until we request them. Do not worry if you no longer have these documents, we will be in touch with details about how to request them.

We will be bringing these claims on a 'No Win-No Fee' basis under a Damages-Based Agreement (DBA). This means that we will deduct up to 30% (exclusive of VAT) of the damages / compensation you receive (the “DBA Payment”) if the claim is successful. The DBA Payment represents our fee for the work we undertake/incur in acting for you and sharing the financial risk in pursuing your claim on your behalf. At the current rate of VAT of 20% the total amount we will deduct from your damages is no more than 36%.

If you are successful in your claim we will also deduct from your damages any expenses that we incur during the case such as court fees, travel costs and expert fees which will be in addition to the 30% (exclusive of VAT). However, we will also seek to recover our time costs and expenses from the Defendant(s) so that it is highly likely that you will end up paying less than 30% (exclusive of VAT and expenses) overall.

If there were any shortfall in the expenses recovered from the Defendant(s), that shortfall would need to be shared amongst all of the successful Claimants. This means that you would only be liable to pay your individual share of the shortfall, which would be a small percentage of the total because you are bringing your claim with many thousands of others in a group and you benefit from being able to share the shortfall with the group.

For example, if the expenses shortfall were £100,000 in total and there were 10,000 Claimants in the group, each would be responsible for paying £10.

If you do not win your case, you do not have to pay us anything, as long as you abide by our funding agreement. 

We have provided a worked example below to illustrate how instructing us under a DBA works where we are acting under a DBA on the same terms we are offering you in this case.

Client enters into DBA for 30% of damages + VAT + expenses. Client wins their case and receives £10,000 in compensation. We also recover from the Defendant £2,000 towards our time costs and expenses


Costs the client is liable to pay Leigh Day:

The DBA fee 30% of £10,000 (damages / compensation):


VAT @ 20%:


Expenses incurred in the case:


Client total liability: (DBA Fee + expenses)


How the client pays those costs:

Costs recovered from the Defendant:


Balance taken from damages / compensation within 30% CAP:


Which leaves monies from the DBA fee to be returned to client


How much client receives of damages / compensation:



In the above example, the client will only pay £2,600 from the £10,000 damages / compensation received i.e. only 26% which includes all monies due to Leigh Day (the DBA Payment, VAT and expenses).

The DBA Payment will never be more than 30% of your damages (excluding VAT), irrespective of the number of claimants within the group. There will also be an insurance premium payable if your claim is successful, but payment of this will be included in the DBA payment of 30% of your damages (excluding VAT and expenses).

Once you have checked that you are eligible to bring a claim, we will ask you to read through our funding agreement and sign the same. You will then be a client of the firm.

If you lose (that is, you get no money back from the Defendants), then you do not have to pay us anything, as long as you abide by our funding agreement.

We have arranged After The Event (ATE) insurance to protect you against the risk of losing and having to pay BMW’s legal costs.

You may have other sources of funding your claim other than the funding package we are offering, such as legal expenses insurance. Many home insurance products include legal expenses insurance, either automatically or as an optional add-on. You should contact your insurers to check.

If you are a member of a trade union, you should check whether the union will fund you.

If you have such an alternative source of funding, then it may be cheaper for you to use it than the funding package we are offering. We are not offering to act via such legal expenses insurance/union funding, so if you wish to use it you may need to instruct another firm.

Yes, provided you bought an affected vehicle, you are able to bring a claim.

Yes, if the contract is in your name and the vehicle is affected, you are able to bring a claim.

Yes, if the contract is in your name and the vehicle is affected, you are able to bring a claim.

Provided you are able to confirm that your vehicle is affected, yes. You will need to check your vehicle registration number and we will ask you to provide us with your vehicle purchase documents.

Provided all the vehicles you want to claim for are affected, yes. We need you to complete a separate questionnaire for each of your vehicles.

No, it does not matter where you bought your BMW vehicle as long as it was bought in England or Wales. You are eligible to bring a claim against the manufacturer whether you bought your vehicle from a BMW showroom, from a private seller or from a third-party dealer, or if you bought the car for business purposes.

BMW have a nationwide network of dealers. There are different ways of knowing if you purchased from an authorised BMW dealer/franchise e.g.:

  • BMW give details of the dealership on their websites
  • A franchise dealership’s name is likely to include the BMW name or brand

We have determined that the interests of people who acquired their vehicle in Scotland are better served by bringing their claims through the Scottish courts. You are likely to be better off using a Scottish law firm that has expertise in this area.

You can contact the Law Society of Scotland who may be able to help to find a suitable lawyer.

Time limits apply to claiming but we are unable to advise you on the time limits applicable in Scotland. You should seek advice from a Scottish lawyer to confirm the position.

Yes, you will still be able to claim regardless of whether your vehicle was bought new or second hand.

The claims are centred around the argument that, had the purchaser known about the emissions issue/ defective parts, this would have been a significant factor in their decision to buy the vehicle or to continue to make payments under a finance agreement.

If knowledge of the emissions issue makes little or no difference to your decision to buy the vehicle, you may not be able to claim. Please do contact us directly on bmw@leighday.co.uk if you would like to discuss your specific circumstances.

At this early stage, it is impossible for us to give an accurate prediction of timescale. As with any legal claim, there are some things within our control and some things outside our control. Much will depend on the Defendants’ response to the legal claim.

In our experience, group claims of this type may take two to five years to progress through the Court, but it could take longer. As a client you will be provided with regular updates, particularly in relation to the timescale for next steps, which can be predicted more accurately than for the case as a whole.

The types of legal claims we would recommend you bring will depend on your individual circumstances (such as when you bought your vehicle, whether you bought it from an authorised dealer, and whether it was paid for using finance). As such, it is impossible to say that all claims will be worth a certain amount.

For those clients who are eligible to bring a claim under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (“CPUT”) (those being people who bought their vehicle on or after 1 October 2014, via an approved dealer or using approved finance and for non-business use) are entitled to recover a discount on payments made, ranging from 25% to 100%. The compensation recoverable under other types of claim is more dependent on proving loss and a lower amount may be recoverable than under CPUT.

This is the first time that these types of claims are being brought against BMW in the English courts. Leigh Day is one of the country’s leading law firms and bringing group actions on behalf of consumers is one of our key areas of speciality.

Leigh Day are joint-lead lawyers in a similar emissions litigation on behalf of Volkswagen owners and recently won the first round of the case against Volkswagen in the English High Court.

We are also acting on behalf of vehicle owners against Mercedes, Nissan, Renault, Vauxhall, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and other Volkswagen Group vehicles for similar allegations concerning ‘defeat devices’ that enable them to cheat emissions tests.

Leigh Day is one of the country's leading law firms. We are not a claims management company.

Bringing group actions on behalf of consumers is one of Leigh Day's key areas of specialty and we have been involved in some of the largest group actions ever brought in the UK.

We have recently been feature in Money Saving Expert’s Diesel Emissions Claims comparison guide which shows that Leigh Day has the highest Trust Pilot rating of all the firms acting in such claims and will make among the lowest deductions to any damages awarded to Claimants.  

We are joint-lead lawyers in the emissions litigation on behalf of UK Volkswagen owners, and recently won the first round of the case against Volkswagen in the UK High Court.

In that case we argued that Volkswagen had deceived car owners as to the compliance of vehicles with EU Emissions Regulations. Lawyers for the UK drivers argued that Volkswagen engines contained defeat device software which sensed when the vehicle was being tested and so artificially reduced emissions in order to pass that test.

Volkswagen has always argued that the software did not meet the legal definition of a defeat device and so was not illegal. However, in April 2020 the High Court in London found that the decision by the KBA, the German road vehicle authority, that the software was a ‘defeat device’ was binding in the English High Court.

We have also been instructed by thousands of owners of Mercedes, Renault, Nissan, Vauxhall, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and other Volkswagen Group vehicles to pursue emissions claims against those manufacturers.

We will be bringing these claims on a 'No Win-No Fee' basis. This means that we will only deduct up to 30% (exclusive of VAT and expenses) of your damages if the claim is successful, but if the claim is lost you will not have to pay anything. This is a significantly lower fee than many firms and claims management companies who will charge up to 50% of your damages for the same claim.

There are number of time limits applying to the claims we are bringing:

Deceit/misrepresentation and breach of statutory duty claims must be brought within 6 years of you discovering (or  if  you  could  have discovered with reasonable diligence) that your vehicle had emissions test cheating device.

Breach of contract claims must be brought within 6 years of the breach of contract, which in this case is 6 years from the date of purchase.

CPUT claims must be brought within 6 years from the date of making the agreement to buy the vehicle.

Consumer Credit Act claims should be brought within 6 years of the first payment made under your BMW finance agreement, although it may be possible to bring the claim after that date but only in respect of getting compensation for any payments made within 6 years or to be made in the future.

You cannot make a claim once the time limit for that particular type of claim has passed.

If you have other types of claim that are still within time, as long as you have a potentially affected vehicle, Leigh Day can still assist you to bring those claims.

If you wish to do this then please complete our form to join the claim.

Please note however, that if the relevant time limit has expired in one or more of your claims, it is likely to reduce the overall level of damages you would receive for a successful claim.

You need to weigh up the benefit of protecting your claim with the major downside which is that, once you issue proceedings, you become potentially liable for the Defendants’ costs.

We are not in a position to assist with issuing a claim on your behalf if limitation in your case is due to expire shortly. This is because, when we are acting for thousands of individual Claimants, it is simply not practicable for us to process claims at short notice.  

If you decide that, despite the costs risks, you still want to issue proceedings to protect your limitation position this can be achieved by filing an individual claim form with the court and paying the applicable court fee. This is not a matter with which Leigh Day will be able to assist you.

On the other hand, if you decide you do not wish to issue proceedings to protect your position, we would be happy to act for you in relation to the other kinds of claims available. In this case, please complete our form.

Yes. Affected vehicles which were leased or purchased from Motability are eligible to join the claims.

There are a number of possible legal claims a vehicle owner could pursue in relation to their BMW vehicle. It may be that, as a result of how you leased your vehicle, we only advise you to pursue some types of legal claim, and not others. If you have your Motability documents, please keep these somewhere safe until we request a copy.

If we find on investigation that a vehicle isn’t affected, or for some other reason isn’t eligible to join the claim, we would contact you to inform you, and then cancel our legal agreement with you. You would not need to pay us any money for the work we had done in these circumstances.

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