THOUSANDS of Scottish VW owners are in line for compensation as lawyers prepare a pan-European "fight for justice" in the wake of a historic $15 billion settlement in the United States.

Patrick McGuire, the solicitor spearheading the battle for 'defeat device' damages in Scotland condemned the car giant for expecting its European customers to "keep quiet and go away" despite the federal court ruling, believed to be the largest ever civil settlement involving a carmaker in US legal history.

Mr McGuire, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors, which is representing 400 car owners in Scotland, said the firm would not back down and was currently working with colleagues across Europe to mount a challenge against VW's refusal to pay compensation to consumers on this side of the Atlantic.

Mr McGuire said: "We have a situation here where Hinrich Woebcken, president and chief executive of Volkswagen America, said this week that the [US] settlement was 'an important milestone in our journey to making things right'. But in Europe people are just expected to keep quiet and go away.

"Well, I can tell VW right now that is simply not going to happen. My firm is currently working with lawyers in the Republic of Ireland, Germany and other European nations to present a continent wide fight for justice for these consumers. We are very confident of success and will be holding a meeting in Brussels soon to discuss our next move."

It comes after a federal court judge in San Francisco ordered the German car giant pay out up to $10bn (£12.3bn) to cover the cost of modifying cars to make them road legal again. Alternatively, owners can choose to "trade in" their cars to the manufacturer at pre-emissions scandal value.

The settlement will also see the manufacturer contribute almost $5bn to fund green car initiatives such as better charging infrastructure for electric cars to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Owners will reportedly also receive up to $10,000 (£8,200) each in damages depending on how old their vehicles are to cover depreciation in value caused by the company's fraud.

More than 1.2m drivers in the UK, including tens of thousands in Scotland, unwittingly purchased cars fitted with software designed to distort readings during diesel emissions tests.

However, the manufacturer has repeatedly refused to pay damages to owners of affected VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda models Europe because it insists that the legal and technical circumstances are "materially different".

Mr McGuire said the "stark contrast" in treatment was unfair and wide open to legal challenge.

He said: "Their response here has been to hire some of the most expensive corporate lawyers the City of London can provide and basically tell consumers to take a hike."

VW did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

However, a spokeswoman for the company in the UK previously ruled out any change in its position.

She said: "There is no buy back deal or compensation for drivers outside the US. That’s because the relevant facts and complex legal issues that have played a role in coming to these agreements are materially different from those in Europe and other parts of the world."

She added that regulations governing nitrogen oxide emissions limit were "much stricter" in the US than elsewhere, and that engine variants also differ "significantly" in the US.

She said: "This makes the development of technical solutions in the United States more challenging than in Europe and other parts of the world."