Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Netherlands helping other Europeans out with its collective action tool

In the context of consumer claims being lined up against VW, the Dutch WCAM - Collective Settlement Act - is attracting the attention of consumer lawyers Europe-wide. With the help of this instrument a consumer representative can negotiate an out-of court settlement with a company regarding widespread damage. Afterwards this settlement can be declared binding by the court.

Group litigation is a scarce phenomenon in Europe. Therefore, not only Austria but also Germany are discussing to litigate with the help of the WCAM in the Netherlands. Such a stretch is legally possible. Already in a previous case the WCAM has served without many Dutch citizens actually being affected by the harmful behaviour: see for details the Converium litigation in Dutch and English.

It remains to be seen if these moves give sufficient incentives to other European governments to reform the national systems for collective redress.

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