ADR and Settlement of Mass Claims
Edited by Christopher Hodges and Astrid Stadler
Chapter 3: Enforcing mass settlements in the European Judicial Area: EU policy and the strange case of Dutch collective settlements (WCAM)
Enhancing the enforcement of rights and judicial decisions has been one of the priorities on the Brussels civil justice agenda since the Amsterdam Treaty. Mutual recognition is regarded as the cornerstone of judicial cooperation in civil matters, and this cooperation in its turn is the engine of a genuine area of justice. The focus of attention has been primarily on facilitating classical cross-border proceedings usually involving two parties, and on the enforcement of resulting court judgments. General policy aims are directed at furthering judicial cooperation in order to facilitate access to justice and to support the pan-European enforcement of rights. At the same time, the landscape of both domestic and cross-border litigation is changing in Europe. First, classical two-party court litigation is supplemented by what is now in the EU context referred to as collective redress mechanisms. These mechanisms exist in different variations in most of the Member States and outside the EU, and go by different names (e.g. collective or representative actions, class actions, group litigation, mass settlements). These mechanisms aim to increase access to justice and efficiency by allowing the bundling of claims for the purpose of acquiring injunctive relief and/or compensation. Another regulatory aim generally attributed to collective redress is that of deterrence. Secondly, in policy and in practice there is a shift to out-of-court dispute-settlement mechanisms or alternative dispute resolution.
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