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December 5, 2006

Europe Shows Growing Interest in Class Actions

The European legal landscape has shifted in the last few years so that forms of class litigation are increasingly available to consumers.  England, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands all allow for some form of class litigation.  France, Ireland, Italy, Finland, Denmark and Norway are all considering legislation that would facilitate certain kinds of class actions.  In general, however, European legal systems prohibit contingency-fee relationships and punitive damages, limit discovery in significant ways, and require the losing side to pay the prevailing party's fees and costs.  Also, judges rather than juries decide cases and apportion damages.  All of these factors make class litigation far more problematic than in the U.S. legal system.

European businesses should be more concerned, according to some defense lawyers, about the efforts of plaintiffs' lawyers to find ways to sue foreign companies in U.S. courts, thus subjecting them to the more free-wheeling world of American law and legal procedures.  See Peter Geier's story for The National Law Journal.

JDP

December 5, 2006 | Permalink

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