There is a consensus in Europe that collective action mechanisms need to include correct safeguards in order to prevent abuse. This policy brief gives an overview of the main types of safeguards that are found in collective judicial procedures. It draws on extensive research into class action and collective redress laws across the world.
Four consequences need to be understood in forming policy on collective actions:
- many safeguards involve economic aspects of litigation that are changing at national level.
- it appears to be almost impossible to select a set of safeguards that will guarantee that only meritorious cases will be brought and no abuse will occur.
- there is as yet insufficient empirical evidence to conclude that safeguards have worked in Europe in preventing abuse.
- there is a classic ‘catch-22’ situation - if safeguards are put in place that give adequate protection against abuse, the collective litigation procedure will itself not work in providing widespread access to justice.
Accordingly, the alternative regulatory, negotiated, or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) solutions appear far more attractive as means of delivering collective redress.
This Policy Brief summarizes the findings of a joint project between Oxford University and the Catholic University of Leuven aimed at evaluating different mechanisms for delivering collective redress. It identifies eleven principles for market regulation, and the three principal goals for collective redress of delivering compensation, affecting the future behaviour of markets, and achieving these goals in a timely and cost-efficient way.
To improve access to justice for consumers in the European single market, an EU Directive on consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) (2013/11/EU) was introduced in May 2013, and came into force in every EU member state on 9 July 2015.
This policy brief, written by Dr Christopher Hodges and Professor Stefan Vogenauer of Oxford University, is published as costs and funding are assuming far greater importance as keys to evaluating and providing access to justice.
The findings were drawn upon by Lord Justice Jackson in his influential Costs Review which recommended moving to American style contingency fees, a recommendation that is widely expected to be implemented by the UK coalition government.