"Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Archive for July, 2011

Yes, they do. Class actions have come to prominence in the past 5 years in several E.U. Member States but they are a new phenomenon and the European Commission is currently debating whether to require them in all E.U. Member States for the private enforcement of competition law and consumer protection law.  Until April 30, 2011, the Commission accepted comments from stakeholders in its latest round of consultation.

In Europe, class actions are often called by different names, such as “collective actions” or “group actions”, but a rose by any other name is still a rose – in other words, these procedural devices function the same way. In each instance, a single person may file a civil lawsuit and thereby represent an entire “class” or “group” or “collective” of people with similar grievances. Class actions in Europe are procedural devices used to gather people with similar grievances based on the same underlying substantive law, such as a national law against fraud or an E.U. treaty article on competition.

Many countries in Europe have class actions in some form or another including England, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.  Due to disincentives for European lawyers and victims, the class action mechanisms in Europe are used less frequently than in the United States.