Are Consumer Class Actions Coming to the European Union?

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In a potential move towards U.S.-style class actions, the European Commission (“EC” or “the Commission”) recently launched an initiative seeking public comments about potential options for collective redress in the European Union (“EU”).1 This initiative arises from substantial concerns about the lack of options available to consumers in the EU to redress unfair competition claims against businesses, as well as the lack of a collective redress mechanism generally.

The EC is seeking public comments on a series of questions such as whether collective actions should be publically funded and whether collective compensatory redress should be extended beyond consumer protection to other areas like financial services and environmental law. Notably, the Commission does not set forth its own procedural or substantive suggestions, and appears to be wiping the slate clean and withdrawing from the EC Director General of Health and Consumer Policy’s Green Paper of 2008, which promoted forms of collective redress closely aligned to U.S. style class actions.

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