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From Injunction and Settlement to Action: Collective Redress and Funding in the Netherlands

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

Abstract

The Netherlands is internationally known for its collective settlement mechanism that was introduced in 2005. In a small number of cases with a global outreach this settlement regime has proven to be effective. However, its application relies on the willingness to conclude a settlement agreement and to have it declared binding by the court. A collective action regime had been in place for decades, but was limited to injunctive and declaratory relief. After years of discussion the collective redress system was ‘upgraded’ by introducing a collective action procedure for damages in 2020. While the intention behind this latest addition can be welcomed as an effective collective action system in this regard was lacking, some of its features are also subject to criticism and have raised doubts as to whether the new Act is an improvement. That is especially the case with respect to actions filed for declaratory and injunctive relief by so called ‘ideological claimants’. Another crucial aspect for the effectiveness of collective redress mechanisms in general, but particularly with respect to monetary relief, is the availability of funding. The different modes of financing litigation, are the topic of extensive debate. In particular third-party funding as a solution to enable expensive collective actions to take place, has gained critical attention in Europe, even though it may prove to be the only available or viable funding option in the international context. This chapter discusses developments in collective redress in the Netherlands with a focus on the issue of funding and on the position of the Netherlands collective redress regime in the European and international context. It concludes that if the Netherlands is to continue to hold its predominant position in Europe in relation to collective redress, that will not be because of the new law, but because of the creativity of lawyers, the pragmatism of the Dutch courts and the willingness of funders to rely on both.

The authors are grateful to Dennis van Gulik, Huguette Knolsfor, and Wouter Hoogeveen for their research assistance and thank Willem Visser for his input on an earlier draft of paragraph 3.4. Mistakes however are of the authors. For Xandra Kramer the research has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 726032), ERC consolidator project ‘Building EU Civil Justice: challenges of procedural innovations - bridging access to justice’; see www.euciviljustice.eu.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Tzankova (2015). Another mechanism would be the assignment or power of attorney model, but although facilitating access to justice and wildly used in competition matters, this procedural device is not a ‘proper’ representative collective redress mechanism.

  2. 2.

    Arons and Van Boom (2010), Kramer (2013) and Tzankova and Hensler (2013).

  3. 3.

    Wet afwikkeling massaschade in collectieve acties (Stb. 2019,130).

  4. 4.

    E.g. Kortmann (2018), Van Boom and Weber (2017), De Bie Leuveling and Van de Velden (2017), Tzankova (2017), Bosters (2017), Arons and Koster 2017, Pavillon and Althoff (2017), Bauw and Voet (2017).

  5. 5.

    November 2020 on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC, OJ L 409/1.

  6. 6.

    Supreme Court of the Netherlands, 27 June 1986, ECLI:NL:PHR:1986:AD3741.

  7. 7.

    Tillema (2019), p. 273: “The number of cases brought by entrepreneurial representative organisations starts to gradually climb from 2008 onwards, but remains (well) under the level of the number of cases brought by the other representative organisations.”

  8. 8.

    Tillema (2019), p. 274: “The findings did support the claim that there is an increased detection of mass wrongdoings, although the number of collective actions appears to have remained modest.”

  9. 9.

    Tzankova (2016).

  10. 10.

    Tzankova (2020).

  11. 11.

    For a more extensive discussion of the drivers of collective litigation see: Hensler (2011).

  12. 12.

    For the background of WCAM see: Frenk (2005).

  13. 13.

    See for the background of the Shell-settlement: Hensler (2016).

  14. 14.

    Van Lith (2010), Kramer (2013) and Halfmeier (2012).

  15. 15.

    Dexia, Shell, Converium and Fortis were resolved using WCAM in an international context.

  16. 16.

    Los (2013).

  17. 17.

    Court of Appeal Amsterdam, 25 January 2007, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2007:AZ7033.

  18. 18.

    One of which was to postpone the start of related individual proceedings after the expiry of the opt out period and not after the binding declaration date: Kamerstukken II 2011/12, 33,126, no. 3.

  19. 19.

    Kamerstukken II 2008/09, 31,762, no. 1, p. 5.

  20. 20.

    Giesen et al. (2016).

  21. 21.

    It was invoked in relation to a pending collective action only once or twice: e.g. Supreme Court of the Netherlands March 28, 2014, ECLI:NL:HR:2014:766, to clarify whether a letter sent by a non-profit organisation could bar the statute of limitation for the whole group. Many of the referrals to the Supreme Court seem to involve individual matters that concern questions of law relevant for Banks and similar institutions when dealing repeatedly with these in individual cases.

  22. 22.

    Art. 1018a DCCP; District Court Den Haag, 5 October 2015, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2015:11469, District Court Amsterdam, 29 March, 2018, ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2018:1681.

  23. 23.

    Tillema (2019), p. 272.

  24. 24.

    Van Delden et al. (2019).

  25. 25.

    Wet Afwikkeling Massaschade in Collectieve Actie (Stb 2019,130).

  26. 26.

    The so-called motion Dijksma, Kamerstukken II 2011/12, 33,000-XIII, no 14.

  27. 27.

    See for a brief English outline: Kramer (2014b).

  28. 28.

    Wet afwikkeling massaschade in collectieve acties (Stb. 2019,130).

  29. 29.

    Article 3:305a paragraph 3 sub b DCC.

  30. 30.

    The representative entity should be able to show that (i) the majority of the individuals on behalf of whom the collective claim is brought (the “class”), reside in the Netherlands; or (ii) the defendant resides in the Netherlands; or (iii) the event or events on which the collective action is based, took place in the Netherlands. However, the mere fact that the defendant resides in the Netherlands may not be sufficient if there is no other circumstance that connects the case to the Dutch jurisdiction.

  31. 31.

    Article 1018f paragraph 1 DCCP.

  32. 32.

    Article 1018f paragraph 5 DCCP.

  33. 33.

    Article 1018g DCCP.

  34. 34.

    Article 1018h DCCP.

  35. 35.

    Article 1018i Dutch Code of Civil Procedure.

  36. 36.

    Van Boom and Weber (2017).

  37. 37.

    Article 3:305a (6) DCC.

  38. 38.

    District Court Amsterdam, 28 October 2020, HA ZA 20-284.

  39. 39.

    Van der Plas (2019).

  40. 40.

    See among others Schelhaas (2019), Bauw et al. (2018), Bauw (2019).

  41. 41.

    See Kramer and Sorabji (2019), including analyses from 12 jurisdictions as well as comparative views.

  42. 42.

    The NCC announcement is to be found here: https://www.rechtspraak.nl/SiteCollectionDocuments/factsheet-netherlands-commercial-court-and-class-actions.pdf.

  43. 43.

    Antonopoulou (2019).

  44. 44.

    Article 1018c paragraph 6 and article 1018d paragraph 1 DCCP.

  45. 45.

    For a more general discussion of the topic of funding in mass claims in the Dutch context see: Tzankova (2012).

  46. 46.

    No win no fee arrangements are currently allowed for lawyers only with respect to individual personal injury cases, thus outside the context of collective redress. The 5 year pilot initiated by the Dutch Bar Association in 2014, was positively evaluated and extended in 2019 for another 5 years, until and including 2024: Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten (2018).

  47. 47.

    That was especially the case on the German market with Munich Re, Allianz and Fortis backing litigation funding activities on the German (speaking) market.

  48. 48.

    Examples are Burford Capital, LCM, Omni Bridgeway.

  49. 49.

    Although the attention of academia and practice with respect to TPF are to be considered overwhelming in recent years (only in the Netherlands, e.g. De Mot et al. 2017; Luiten 2017; Van der Krans 2018; Solas 2019), there is still an universe that needs to be explored, partly because both phenomena are moving targets: TPF and collective redress are continuously evolving.

  50. 50.

    Art. 6:96 lid 2 DCC provides for a very limited loser pays rule. Traditionally, only fixed litigation costs are awarded, and actual lawyer’s fees are no part of it. These are dependent on the amount at stake, the number of legal motions and submissions filed with and heard by the courts. For a more detailed description of how that system works see Tzankova et al. (2014).

  51. 51.

    Bauw and Van der Linden (2016).

  52. 52.

    This is in itself an interesting research topic from legal methodology point of view and illustrates the virtues and vices of the application of different empirical research methods; while quantitative research is useful to illustrate certain trends or development, it fails to explain underlying issues and causes. A qualitative research method would be more suitable for that purpose.

  53. 53.

    E.g. in Kamerstukken II 2016/17, 34,608, no. 3, p. 12.

  54. 54.

    A common fund-doctrine insures that in class actions every group member who benefits from collective litigation or settlement ultimately contributes in the litigation costs, including the potential success fees of the funders, absent a (pre-)existing contractual agreement between the respective ‘free riding’- group member and the funder.

  55. 55.

    Van Boom and Luiten (2015). The doctrines of ‘champerty and maintenance’ that lead to doctrinal issues and require statutory or case law solutions in common law jurisdictions are uncommon in the Netherlands.

  56. 56.

    Liesker Procesfinanciering, Redbrest, Capaz, Weiss Capital and Omni Bridgeway.

  57. 57.

    We speak of ‘mass claim’ because not all of them concern collective actions in the Netherlands.

  58. 58.

    E.g. Shell, Converium and Fortis settlements.

  59. 59.

    E.g. Dexia and VW litigations.

  60. 60.

    E.g. follow on-damages litigations in relation to Air cargo, Sodium Chlorate and Trucks cartels.

  61. 61.

    Article 3:305a(2) Dutch Civil Code.

  62. 62.

    District Court Oost-Brabant, 29 June 2016, ECLI:NL:RBOBR:2016:3383; Court of Appeal Amsterdam, 14 April 1 2020, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2020:1157.

  63. 63.

    In Shell and Converium the Amsterdam Court of Appeal applied a fairly passive approach to the topic.

  64. 64.

    See Tzankova (2020) on the topic of agency issues under various standing models in collective redress.

  65. 65.

    Court of Appeal Amsterdam. 13 July 2018, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2018:2422 consideration 5.20 & 5.21.

  66. 66.

    Tzankova (2018).

  67. 67.

    Lopatka and Brooks Smith (2012), Karlsgodt (2011).

  68. 68.

    Kalajdzic (2018).

  69. 69.

    Tzankova (2017) and Weterings (2020).

  70. 70.

    Article 1018l DCCP.

  71. 71.

    Article 1018i DCCP and article 6:96(2)(b) and (c) DCC.

  72. 72.

    Kamerstukken II 2017/18, 34,608, no. 9, p. 5.

  73. 73.

    See, inter alia, the extensive study by Van Lith (2010), Arons and van Boom (2010), Tzankova and van Lith (2012), Kramer (2013, 2014a).

  74. 74.

    Dutch Ministry of Justice/WODC (2010), also published as a book: Van Lith (2010).

  75. 75.

    Court of Appeal Amsterdam. 29 May 2009, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2009:BI5744 (Shell Petroleum NV/Dexia Bank NV Netherlands) [hereinafter Shell]; Court of Appeal Amsterdam, 17 January 2012, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2010:BO3908 (Scor Holding) [hereinafter Converium].

  76. 76.

    Morrison v. Nat’l Australian Bank Ltd.,130 S. Ct 2869, 2883 (2010); see Silberman (2012); see Kaal and Painter (2012).

  77. 77.

    Shell, supra note 42. See Kramer (2014a), pp. 254–256.

  78. 78.

    Converium, supra note 77.

  79. 79.

    Kramer (2014a), pp. 256–258.

  80. 80.

    See inter alia Van Lith (2010), Gidi (2012), p. 953; Allemeersch (2012) and Kramer (2014a).

  81. 81.

    Gidi (2012), p. 953.

  82. 82.

    Request for a preliminary ruling, Case C-709/19 (Vereniging van Effectenbezitters).

    Zaak C-709/19xxx.

  83. 83.

    Van Lith (2010), Hess (2012), Halfmeier (2012), Wautelet (2011), Bariatti (2012) and Muir Watt (2010).

  84. 84.

    See for a more detailed discussion Kramer (2014a), pp. 262–271.

  85. 85.

    Supra, Sect. 4.

  86. 86.

    Supra, Sect. 2.

  87. 87.

    Kamerstukken II 2016–2017, 34 608, no 310.

  88. 88.

    Kramer (2014b).

  89. 89.

    Advice Standing Committee on Private International Law and Advisory Committee Civil Procedure (Staatscommissie voor Internationaal Privaatrecht en Adviescommissie voor Burgerlijk Procesrecht), a April 2016, available at https://zoek.officielebekendmakingen.nl/blg-789395.pdf (visited 25 November 2020), at 3.4.1.

  90. 90.

    van der Plas (2019), Bosters (2017).

  91. 91.

    Though as van der Plas (2019), pp. 545–546 argues, in case a claim is based on breach of contract within the meaning of Article 7(1) Brussels I-bis the legal standing rules may be more limited than the international jurisdiction rules.

  92. 92.

    CJEU 1 March 2005, Case C-281/02, ECR I-1383 (Owusu v Jackson).

  93. 93.

    Article 4b Representative Actions Directive. See further Sect. 4.3.

  94. 94.

    See on the EU legislative history also Tzankova (2020).

  95. 95.

    Commission Recommendation 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, OJ L 201 pp. 60–65.

  96. 96.

    See in relation to the WCAM, Kramer (2014a), pp. 245–248.

  97. 97.

    Recommendation, No 21.

  98. 98.

    Kamerstukken II 2012–2013, 22,113, no 1663.

  99. 99.

    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Towards a European Horizontal Framework for Collective Redress’, COM (2013) 401/2 final, 11 June 2013, p. 13.

  100. 100.

    European Commission Communication (supra footnote 2), pp. 13–14.

  101. 101.

    See in relation to the WCAM, Van Lith (2010); Kramer (2014a), pp. 271–277.

  102. 102.

    Recommendation, No 15-16.

  103. 103.

    Biard and Kramer (2019).

  104. 104.

    Article 3 (4d) RAD.

  105. 105.

    Article 4(3) RAD.

  106. 106.

    Article 2(3) RAD provides that this directive is without prejudice to EU private international law rules.

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Tzankova, I.N., Kramer, X.E. (2021). From Injunction and Settlement to Action: Collective Redress and Funding in the Netherlands. 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_5

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