Lessons from America
- New Horizons in Law and Economics series
Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus, Alberto Cassone and Giovanni B. Ramello
Chapter 16: Introducing Class Actions in Finland: An Example of Law-making Without Economic Analysis
Mikko Välimäki 1. INTRODUCTION The Finnish Parliament accepted in February 2007 a new law on class actions (literally ‘group actions’), which entered into force on 1 January, 2008.1 The legislative process was particularly slow. Finland has been preparing a law on class actions since the early 1990s and this was – depending on the criteria of counting – the fourth try. Some fifteen years ago the idea of class actions was something new in Europe. Time passes quickly, however, and the new Finnish law cannot be described as ‘radical’ by any meaning of the word. Many European countries, as described in other chapters in this volume, have changed their existing procedural codes and enacted new laws to make class action litigation possible. The new Finnish class action law differs from the mainstream in fundamentally limiting its scope of application. Although the law is titled as being a general law on class actions, it only applies to consumer cases where the government-funded Consumer Ombudsman is acting as the lead counsel. This was not the case in the beginning. Years ago, the first law proposals had much broader scope of application but as the lobbying between potential defendants (the industry) and plaintiffs (consumer agencies etc.) became polarized, it became evident that there can be either a major compromise or no law at all. Indeed, the objectives and contents of the law proposals changed many times during the years 1 Ryhmäkannelaki, 13.2.2007. The law is based on government’s proposal nr. 154/2006. 327...
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