Sunday, June 24, 2007
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
F.M. Scherer of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government reviews the US experience of private litigantion in antitrust in his paper Class Actions in the U.S. Experience: An Economist's Perception.
ABSTRACT: This paper, presented at a University of the Piedmont (Italy) conference in January 2007, analyzes several features of the U.S. experience with class action litigation, emphasizing suits alleging antitrust law violations. It observes that despite the trebling of damages under U.S. antitrust law, deterrence has been less than completely successful, as shown by the large number of important price-fixing conspiracies proven in recent years. It argues too that many class action suits are brought with insubstantial evidence of violation. An important motivator is the significant share of settlement damages realized by entrepreurial law firms organizing the class actions. The retention by judges of neutral economic experts can help sort out the evidentiary complexities of class action suits, but the approach is far from a panacea.