Lessons from America
New Horizons in Law and Economics series
Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus, Alberto Cassone and Giovanni B. Ramello
Samuel Issacharoff and Geoffrey P. Miller The current wave of deregulation and market liberalization in Europe has had major repercussions for the prospect of litigated forms of collective redress. Once decried as the perversity of rapacious Americans, class actions are now the focus of significant reform efforts in many European countries and even at the level of the European Union. There are, no doubt, many reasons for the relatively sudden attention to means of collective redress. Some have to do with the need to create effective ex post accountability mechanisms to contain the potential adverse effects of goods and services freely entering the market. Others seek to create mechanisms for efficient resolution of the numerous intertwined claims that invariably arise from the mass production and delivery of goods and services across a broad market. One should not gainsay the significance of these reform measures. All represent efforts to mobilize means of private enforcement to foster prevention through the prospect of civil litigation. For countries steeped in the civil law tradition, the move away from centralized public enforcement is a sea change in legal structures. The marriage of private enforcement mechanisms and relaxed barriers to entry into increasingly deregulated markets is a significant change as well. Add to that the diversity of litigation tools that are being developed and one would have to be almost churlish not to marvel at the liberalizing spirit sweeping the Continent. And, yet, one need spend only a few minutes in conversations with European reformers before...
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