Collective Redress in Antitrust – A European Study

Collective redress remains a hot topic on all European levels, and the European Parliament takes an active role. Its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs has commissioned a study on Collective Redress in Antitrust, published in June 2012.

Here’s the Abstract:

“Consumers regularly suffer harm in the form of higher prices, lower output, reduced quality and limited innovation as a result of antitrust infringements but they are rarely compensated due to legal and practical obstacles. Collective redress is a mechanism that may accomplish the termination or prevention of unlawful business practices which affect a multitude of claimants or the compensation for the harm caused by such illegal practices. This study analyses the systems of collective redress for breach of competition law in the area of antitrust in the EU. Starting with an overview of the relevant national and EU legislation in this area, it discusses the question of an EU-wide specific system for collective redress in antitrust and the legal basis for a legislative initiative at EU level. Finally, it assesses advantages and limits of different policy options in relation to several procedural rules both generally applying to collective actions and specifically relevant to collective redress in antitrust.”

And here’s an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

“Collective redress systems in the EU appear in general to be apt to discourage unmeritorious claims, as they do not, in general, envisage the combination of procedural rules, such as treble damages, pre-trial discovery, and conditional fees, that have been indicated by many commentators as the primary causes in the surge of meritless collective actions in the US. But there are concerns that the existing schemes might be tilted in favour of defendants, thereby restricting the ability of claimants to make effective use of collective redress tools. In particular, in our view the limits of a pure opt-in system and the lack of sufficient and alternative sources of funding may represent significant obstacles to bringing collective actions. We also consider that some further steps towards a more efficient system could be made by extending the binding effect of national competition authorities’ decisions in all countries. This could significantly foster the proposition of follow-on collective claims, especially those arising from cartel infringements.”

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