Lawyers at Harcus Sinclair, which has brought the suit, say English and Welsh claimants, who do not have to pay to join the legal action, could receive “several thousands” of pounds per car.
The scandal, which not only affected cars from VW but also vehicles belonging to its sister companies Audi, Skoda and Seat, saw the carmaker admit to using an illegal piece of software in its diesel cars that would allow the vehicles to appear far more environmentally friendly during testing than they would in the real world.
It led to a recall of millions of cars worldwide and there are believed to be 1.2 million diesel engine cars affected in the UK. If each of the 10,000 UK motorists is awarded £3,000, the cost to VW could rise to £3.6bn.
In a statement Harcus Sinclair said: “The key allegation is that the affected cars should not have been certified as fit for sale because it is alleged that they produced higher levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than the rules allowed.
“It is also alleged that the affected vehicles only passed official emissions tests because their engines were fitted with a ‘defeat device’ which reduces NOx emissions under test conditions.”
Damon Parker, head of litigation at the firm, said: “It is only right that UK car owners affected by the scandal have the opportunity to seek compensation.
“The group action aims to ensure that, if VW is found to have misled consumers about the environmental damage caused by their cars, they are penalised accordingly so as to discourage this sort of behavior from happening again.”
The firm will apply for a group litigation order in the High Court later this month.
If the action is granted, a pre-trial hearing will follow, ahead of a trial in around 18 months.
Volkswagen has been contacted for comment.