The European Commission has just launched a public consultation aimed at achieving a coherent approach towards collective redress in the European Union.
Although collective redress is not a new concept in the EU, the Commission decided to launch a consultation “Towards a more coherent European approach to collective redress”.
What is the purpose? Mainly to identify common legal principles, is there a need for a future legal instrument and – last but not least - how these principles could fit into the EU as well as into the Member States legal systems. In other words, the Commission seeks opinions on the future for collective actions in Europe.
Sometimes the violation of EU law may trigger multiple individual lawsuits. Current EU law already provides for the possibility of pursuing collective actions for injunctions in the field of consumer law, but the national legal systems vary considerably concerning financial markets, competition, environmental protection, and other areas of law (what is more, some Member States have them, while others do not).
Generally speaking, there are two types of a “broad concept of collective redress”. That is: (i) injunctive relief (lawsuits seeking to stop illegal behavior) and (ii) compensatory relief (lawsuits seeking damages for the harm caused). Such procedures can take a variety of forms. To name a few: court actions, out-of-court settlements, ADR.
It is still a very initial stage and the outcome of the public consultation is open. Contributions can be sent until the end of April 2011.