In recent years, the European Commission and various Member States, citing increasingly integrated markets and higher levels of cross-border activity within the European Union (“E.U.”), have called for the adoption of effective collective redress mechanisms for victims of violations of E.U. law. Although many Member States have already adopted collective action procedures under national law, these procedures have been ineffective in stimulating private enforcement of E.U. law and are often divergent in their approach to consolidating claims. E.U. lawmakers, after a lengthy period of investigation and study, have identified a set of guiding principles for the Member States to use in enacting new collective redress procedures within their national systems. The studies and papers solicited from the public during the Commission’s deliberations are explicit in their rejection of the U.S.-style opt-out class action mechanism. In their effort to avoid similarly calamitous results, European lawmakers propose that Member States adopt “opt-in” class actions, while rejecting many of the economic incentives that some believe lead to filing nonmeritorious claims, such as punitive damages and contingency fee arrangements. The European proposal is unlikely in the authors’ view to stimulate private enforcement of European law or increase victims’ access to compensation, given the flaws inherent in the opt-in class action device. Instead of looking to adopt a “U.S.-lite” approach to victim redress which is fundamentally incompatible with many judicial systems within the E.U., the authors propose that Europeans consider adopting a regulatory administered compensation system, modeled after such U.S. examples as the Securities and Exchange Commission Fair Funds and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The authors also propose that regulatory administered funds can provide more effective and efficient restitution to victims than traditional litigation.
Litwin, E. and Feder, M. (2014), "European collective redress: Lessons learned from the U.S. experience This article was originally presented at the Spring Meeting of the ABA Section of International Law, which was held in New York in April 2012. We have updated the original version to account for recent events.
This article was originally presented at the Spring Meeting of the ABA Section of International Law, which was held in New York in April 2012. We have updated the original version to account for recent events.
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