Among the topics of principal focus on this site are U.S. securities class action lawsuits, although from time to time I do write about collective investor actions outside the U.S (here, for example). The fact is that in recent years there have been a number of important and interesting developments in collective investor actions outside of the U.S. In a recent paper, “Five Current Class Actions Outside of North American Investors Should Be Aware Of,” Jeff Lubitz, Managing Director, ISS Securities Class Action Services, takes a look at some key cases outside of the U.S. to watch in coming months. A copy of the paper can be found here.
The five cases Lubitz has selected to review are in broad range of countries: New Zealand; Australia; Germany; Netherlands; and United Kingdom. The cases selected also highlight some of the procedural differences involved in the collective investor actions in the respective countries; as Lubitz points out several of the cases he discusses are opt-in cases (by comparison to the opt-out U.S. class action approach).
The underlying facts involved in each of the cases are also interesting. Two of the cases – the ones against Airbus and Glencore – arise out of underlying allegations of bribery.
The DWS case Lubitz discusses in his paper is particularly interesting to me, as it involves allegations that the asset management firm engaged in “greenwashing.” According to Lubitz’s summary of the case, DWS allegedly has launched green and ESG-labeled fund products in recent years. The collective investor action alleges that DWS was involved in greenwashing – that is, that it had launched a number of financial products that are not actually “green” as the company claimed. The underlying greenwashing allegations are also the subject of a governmental investigation. This collective investor action is interesting to me, as it represents yet another example of a civil lawsuit arising out of allegations that a company’s ESG-related initiative misled investors – yet another example of a situation in which a company’s efforts to be proactive on ESG issues actually resulted in litigation against the company. (Two recent examples of this phenomenon can be found here and here.)
In any event, I recommend Lubitz’s paper; it provides an interesting overview of important collective investor action developments outside the U.S. I have long thought that while the focus so often in discussion of D&O liability issues the focus is on U.S. developments, but it is increasingly the case that many of the most important and interesting developments are actually arising outside the U.S.