The European Commission launched a public consultation aimed at harmonising collective actions in the European Union on 4 February 2011. The violation of EU law may trigger multiple individual lawsuits, but the national procedural laws in the 27 EU Member States vary considerably with regard to financial markets, competition, environmental protection, and other areas of EU law. With this public consultation, the European Commission is attempting to identify legal principles that should be applied to collective actions throughout the EU.

It is not clear yet whether as a result of this consultation the European Commission will decide that collective redress may be suitable for EU legislation. In the meantime, the Netherlands is the only European country where a collective settlement of mass claims can be declared binding on all worldwide class members on an "opt out" basis. Such binding declaration must be recognised by courts in all EU Member States under the Brussels I Regulation, and also in Switzerland, Iceland and Norway under the Lugano Convention. Since the implementation of the relevant act in 2005, a binding declaration has been issued in five cases. A sixth case, concerning an international securities class action against two Swiss companies, is pending.

The EC press release of the consultation

Our Legal Alerts on international collective settlement of mass claims in the Netherlands