Class actions are of course well-established in the United States, but class action litigation has never been as well-developed in the UK. Among a number of reasons for this arguably is the lack of an “opt-out” class action procedure in the UK. However, as detailed in an interesting July 2019 memo by Colin Hutton of the CMS law firm entitled “Opt-Out Class Actions in the UK: Are We Entering a New Era in Litigation?” (here), several recent developments suggest that there may be “gradual but significant changes that may well alter the litigation culture in the UK permanently.”
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As I have noted in prior posts, there has been in recent years a slowly developing E.U. initiative for the introduction of a rights of collective redress on a Union-wide basis. As discussed here, in April 2018, the European Commission introduced a proposal – as part of what it called a “New Deal for Consumers” – that would introduce a European collective redress right for consumers. More recently, on March 26, 2019, the EU Parliament, in plenary session, adopted the Commission’s proposal. The next step is that the Council of Europe will now take up the proposal, moving the E.U. one step closer toward the adoption of a pan-European collective redress mechanism for consumers that would be available in all of the member states.  The March 26, 2019 application on which the EU Parliament acted can be found here.
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One of the most interesting global legal developments has been the rise in recent years of collective redress mechanisms outside the United States, a phenomenon on which I have commented in the context of collective investor actions. The provision for collective or representative actions has expanded in a number of other contexts as well, including in particular in the consumer context. On April 11, 2018, the European Commission introduced a proposal – as part of what it called a “New Deal for Consumers” – that would introduce a European collective redress right for consumers. This proposed collective action mechanism is subject to a number of procedural protections. Nevertheless, the proposal, if adopted, would represent a significant advance in the development of collective redress mechanisms and rights in Europe. The European Commission’s April 11, 2018 press release about the proposal can be found here.
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eu flagIn prior posts (for example, here), I have described the rise of collective investor actions outside of the U.S. as one of the most important current developments in the world of directors and officers liability. The rise of these collective investor suits is not happening in a vacuum; the growth in the number and size of these kinds of lawsuits is part of a larger upsurge in collective actions generally. According to a recent Report, collective redress actions represent a “growing business” in Europe, and the “volume and value of the cases being filed is on a steep upward curve.”

The Report, a detailed and interesting March 2017 publication by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Legal Reform entitled “The Growth of Collective Redress in the EU: A Survey of Developments in 10 Member States” (here) takes an anxious and uneasy look at the changes in the collective action environment in Europe, and proposes several recommendations as ways for countries to avoid abuses that the report contends have arisen elsewhere.  The Institute’s March 21, 2017 press release about the report can be found here.
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