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Harald Koch and Joachim Zekoll

This chapter looks at European approaches to handling mass torts claims from three different perspectives in an effort not only to sketch European experiences in a pointillist fashion, but also to extract some common denominators that are suitable for comparison with central elements of other legal systems. First, the chapter highlights the key differences that exist between mass litigation in Europe and the United States. Second, it presents several case studies in which mass claims processing in Europe has been approached. Third, the chapter identifies some general characteristics of mass torts claims processing in Europe, that is, the distinctive role of state institutions, the preference of compensation over law enforcement and the enactment of substantive laws in reaction to mass litigation. In the aggregate, these characteristics shed light on the question of whether risk management in mass tort situations can be improved by the way in which claims are being processed.