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Collectivization of European Civil Procedure: Are We Finally Close to a (Negative) Utopia?

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Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT,volume 89)

Abstract

Europe is unison in its rediscovered interest for collective and group litigation. New initiatives, legislative projects and model rules on collective redress emerge almost on a daily basis. In this chapter, the editors provide the background to this development and introduce the research presented in other chapters gathered in this book. Longstanding tradition of American class actions and their broad practical use are contrasted to the relatively recent European fascination with collective redress mechanisms and their limited reach. But, while incoherent and fragmented legislation on collective redress still does not produce spectacular results, many diverse initiatives demonstrate that the landscape of collective litigation is changing quickly. The trial and error approach that has so far characterized European attempts to introduce a workable collective redress system that is radically different from American-style class actions, did not so far produce a universal solution. However, a few important steps towards the Holy Grail of effective European collective redress have been made, both at the EU level, and at the level of its Member States. After a brief summary of the developments noted in the chapters which follow, the authors ask questions regarding the limits of collectivization of civil justice in a European context. Should the spread of collective procedures be embraced without reservations, or may it turn out to be a ‘wrong trail’? The answer to this question depends on the ability to adjust collective redress mechanisms to urgent social needs and public purposes on one side, and to specific features of European legal systems on the other side. Recent global developments show that particular local circumstances play an important role in designing specific forms of collective redress. The enthusiasm about class and representative relief should take into account multiple risks entailed in the collectivization of civil procedure. Examples from Canada, Brazil and China indicate that local procedures may or may not work properly, but that none of them can be simply exported to different environments with different social policies and institutional infrastructures.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See for instance Agent orange, la dernière bataille, French-US documentary, 2020.

  2. 2.

    Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338 (2011).

  3. 3.

    Regulation 2017/2394 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws and repealing Regulation, 2017 O.J. (L 345) (EU).

  4. 4.

    Directive 2009/22 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on injunctions for the protection of consumers’ interests, 2009 O.J. (L 110) (EC).

  5. 5.

    Recommendation of the European Commission of 11 June 2013 on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms in the Member States concerning violations of rights granted under Union Law, 2013 O.J. (L 201).

  6. 6.

    https://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/item-detail.cfm?item_id=620435. Accessed 6 Nov 2020.

  7. 7.

    European Commission (11 Apr 2018). Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2018:184:FIN. Accessed 6 Nov 2020.

  8. 8.

    Directive 2020/1828 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2020 on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC, 2020 O.J. (L 409) (EU).

  9. 9.

    https://www.unidroit.org/english/principles/civilprocedure/eli-unidroit-rules/200925-eli-unidroit-rules-e.pdf, Accessed 4 Dec 2020.

  10. 10.

    https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/upholding-rule-law/eu-justice-scoreboard_en. Accessed 4 Dec 2020.

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Correspondence to Alan Uzelac .

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Uzelac, A., Voet, S. (2021). Collectivization of European Civil Procedure: Are We Finally Close to a (Negative) Utopia?. In: Uzelac, A., Voet, S. (eds) Class Actions in Europe. Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice, vol 89. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-73036-9_1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-73036-9_1

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