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European Collective Redress: A Status Quaestionis
Associate Professor of the Institute for Procedural Law
at the Ghent University and Visiting Scholar of the Stanford Law School
The purpose of this brief paper is to provide an overview of recent collective redress developments in Europe, in particular on the European level and in four European jurisdictions: the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium. The aim is to describe recent legislative initiatives and reforms. The facts and nothing but the facts. Collective redress is defined as a procedural mechanism that allows, for reasons of procedural economy and/or efficiency of enforcement, many similar legal claims to be bundled into a single court action. Collective redress facilitates access to justice in particular in cases where the individual damage is so low that potential claimants would not think it worth pursuing an individual claim. Only qualified authorities having a legitimate interest in ensuring that the collective interests of consumers are complied with (e.g., independent public bodies or consumer protection organisations), may bring an action. In fields of law where a public authority (i.e., a regulator) is empowered to adopt a decision finding that there has been a violation of Union law, collective redress actions should, as a general rule, only start after any proceedings of the public authority, which were launched before commencement of the private action, have been concluded definitively.
Keywords: class actions; consumer protection; EU law.
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Information about the author
Stefaan Voet (Gent) – Associate Professor of the Institute for Procedural Law at the Ghent University and Visiting Scholar of the Stanford Law School (Universiteitstraat 4, BE-9000, Gent, Belgium; e-mail: Stefaan.Voet @UGent.be).