ARTICLE: FROM BUDAPEST TO BERLIN: HOW IMPLEMENTING CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION WOULD INCREASE COMPETITION AND STRENGTHEN CONSUMER CONFIDENCE Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2009 The Regents of the University of Wisconsin
Wisconsin International Law Journal

ARTICLE: FROM BUDAPEST TO BERLIN: HOW IMPLEMENTING CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION WOULD INCREASE COMPETITION AND STRENGTHEN CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

Spring, 2009

Wisconsin International Law Journal

27 Wis. Int'l L.J. 173

Author

CHRISTOPHER SMITHKA*

Excerpt



INTRODUCTION

While class action lawsuits were first introduced in the United States in the mid-1960s, there is still no legal provision for European consumers to join together in a class action lawsuit. 1 According to Meglena Kuneva, the European Union's Consumer Affairs Commissioner, the internal market of the European Union (EU) remains fragmented with twenty-seven national mini-markets, depriving consumers of lower prices and better choices, and depriving the European economy of an additional source of growth. 2 Recently, the European Union has considered implementing a new consumer strategy to increase consumer protection and make the European Union's single market work more effectively. 3 The most striking proposal in the strategy is a system of collective redress, which would allow consumers across the European Union to join together in lawsuits against manufacturers and retailers of faulty goods and services. 4

However, many European business leaders are opposed to the idea of a collective redress system, fearing that Europe might adopt the litigation culture prevalent in the United States (U.S.). 5 Although similar to the American class action model, 6 the collective redress system would avoid the excesses of the American model, such as high punitive damages and huge attorney fees, 7 because of the differences in the European legal system. For instance, juries are not used in civil actions, making absurdly generous awards less likely and American-style contingency fess are rare. 8

This Comment argues that the European Union should implement a system of collective redress to ...
 
 
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