Various Claimants v Mercedes-Benz & Ors Case Highlights Challenges of Group Litigation and Importance of Active Case Management

Citation: [2023] EWHC 3173 (KB)
Judgment on


The case of Various Claimants v Mercedes-Benz & Ors [2023] EWHC 3173 (KB) is significant due to the sheer scale of the litigation involved. It demonstrates the challenges posed by group litigation involving numerous claimants and defendants, which necessitates robust case management to ensure fairness and proportionality in the conduct of legal proceedings. This article analyzes the key facts and legal principles that emerged from the judgment while considering the outcomes of the court’s decisions.

Key Facts

This group litigation relates to the alleged use of prohibited defeat devices (PDDs) in vehicles concerning NOx emissions. With over 1 million claimants and more than 1500 defendants, the complexity and enormity of the case are unprecedented. The litigation encompasses a variety of legal, factual, and technical issues that range from being almost identical across multiple claims to being unique to each individual claim.

The presiding court, the King’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, received submissions from various representative groups and made orders to streamline the management of these multiple, overlapping cases. The court favored a single, comprehensive case management conference (CMC) to handle the common issues collectively, thereby preventing disproportionate costs and excessive use of court resources.

The legal principles at play in this case include the concept of active case management, as mandated by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), which are designed to ensure that cases are handled efficiently and justly. Under CPR 1.4, the court has a duty to manage cases actively, which includes encouraging the parties to co-operate with each other in the conduct of the proceedings and saving expense.

The decision reflects principles such as fairness, proportionality, and the proper allocation of the court’s resources. The court needs to balance ensuring that each party’s case is adequately considered while also preventing the legal process from becoming unwieldy and excessively burdensome.

Additionally, the concept of a Group Litigation Order (GLO) under CPR 19.11 is pertinent, which allows claims containing common or related issues of fact or law to be managed collectively.


The key outcomes of the decision are as follows:

  1. The March Hearing, initially scheduled for the Mercedes group litigation, will determine the scope and content of future hearings for the group litigation orders (GLOs) established.
  2. The court underlined that no final decisions were made regarding what would be settled during the scheduled trial periods.
  3. The necessity for consolidated hearings for existing and prospective GLO applications was emphasized, with such hearings scheduled before Senior Master Cook.
  4. The approval of the Group Litigation Order in the Ford litigation was also announced.


The judgment given in Various Claimants v Mercedes-Benz & Ors [2023] EWHC 3173 (KB) highlights the importance of judicial efficiency and the application of the principles of active case management, proportionality, and fairness when faced with complex and extensive group litigations. The approach taken by the court reflects the need to facilitate the resolution of common issues in large-scale cases while ensuring that the conduct of such proceedings does not become disproportionate or place undue strain on judicial resources. The decisions reached and the management strategies employed serve as a reminder of the ongoing need for adaptability and collaboration among parties involved in significant litigation scenarios.