Resolving Mass Disputes

Resolving Mass Disputes

ADR and Settlement of Mass Claims

Edited by Christopher Hodges and Astrid Stadler

The landscape of mass litigation in Europe has changed impressively in recent years, and collective redress litigation has proved a popular topic. Although much of the literature focuses on the political context, contentious litigation, or how to handle cross-border multi-party cases, this book has a different focus and a fresh approach.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Christopher Hodges and Astrid Stadler

Subjects: economics and finance, law and economics, law - academic, arbitration and dispute resolution, comparative law, consumer law, law and economics, law and society

Extract

Mass litigation is on the reform agenda across Europe and the legislative landscape has changed impressively in recent years. Many aspects of collective redress litigation, particularly the comparative and international perspective, have been highlighted in various publications recently. Most of them have a focus on the political context such as whether to strengthen private or public enforcement of consumer and/or competition law or on questions raised in the context of contentious litigation, such as how to design procedural instruments effectively, or how to handle cross-border multiparty cases. The focal point of the contributions in this book is a different one. We take as a starting-point the observation that mass claims are a “nuisance” for both parties and courts. Preventing contentious litigation and encouraging parties to settle disputes is particularly important for mass claims. Therefore the contributions are about new ways of settling mass disputes. Whereas there is vast experience and plenty of case law on settlements in the classic class action countries like the USA, Canada and Australia, for many courts in Europe mass disputes and settlement approval are a completely new terrain. Notably the US class action system has repeatedly refined its rules, enhanced the court’s managerial role and made considerable efforts to minimize the risks typical of class actions. Within Europe, the Dutch Mass Settlement Act of 2005 (Wet collectieve afwikkeling massaschade, WCAM) is unique and very interesting. It is an excellent example of how courts struggle to find standards and instruments to improve settlement proceedings.