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Observatoire des Actions de Groupe

Class Actions in Europe, Holy Grail or a Wrong Trail?

Nouveau livre Class Actions in Europe, Holy Grail or a Wrong Trail?, a été publié 24 juin 2021. Contient une contribution de la Fondatrice de l’Observatoire, Maria José Azar-Baud avec Alexandre Biard dans la rubrique «The Dawn of Collective Redress 3.0 in France?».

Vous pouvez lire la table des matières ici.

Plus de détails ci-dessous (en anglais):

Summary of the chapter

The Dawn of Collective Redress 3.0 in France?
Maria José Azar-Baud, Alexandre Biard
Pages 73-95

France is a country with a long tradition of collective proceedings in general but has only a limited experience when it comes to group actions in particular (which are called in French ‘actions de groupe’). This procedural instrument was formally adopted in 2014 after decades of tense debates and controversies. Its subsequent developments have been patchy and the problems plaguing its functioning and its added value for harmed individuals remain multiple in practice. Unexpectedly, the development of group actions in France has triggered several interesting evolutions. They have first revitalised old and pre-existing procedural mechanisms, which were until now rarely used. Second, they have indirectly contributed to the emergence of a myriad of new Legaltech actors attracted by an emerging mass litigation market in France. These actors use online tools and platforms for mobilising individual claimants, hence structuring mass claims. In parallel, the recent EU initiatives, and in particular the adoption in November 2020 of Directive 2020/1828 on representative actions for the protection of the collective interest of consumers, are likely to have an important impact on the French collective redress landscape. In other words, France may be at the dawn of a new era, the one of ‘collective redress 3.0’.

Summary of the book

Not so long ago, class actions were considered to be a textbook example of American exceptionalism; many of their main features were assumed to be incompatible with the culture of the civil law world. However, the tide is changing; while there are now trends in the USA toward limiting or excluding class actions, notorious cases like Dieselgate are moving more and more European jurisdictions to extend the reach of their judicial collective redress mechanisms. For many new fans of class actions, collective redress has become a Holy Grail of sorts, a miraculous tool that will rejuvenate national systems of civil justice and grant them unprecedented power.

Still, while the introduction of various forms of representative action has virtually become a fashion, it is anything but certain that attempting to transplant American-style class action will be successful. European judicial structures and legal culture(s) are fundamentally different, which poses a considerable challenge.

This book investigates whether class actions in Europe are indeed a Holy Grail or just another wrong turn in the continuing pursuit of just and effective means of protecting the rights of citizens and businesses. It presents both positive and critical perspectives, supplemented by case studies on the latest collectivization trends in Europe’s national civil justice systems. The book also shares the experiences of some non-European jurisdictions that have developed promising hybrid forms of collective redress, such as Canada, Brazil, China, and South Africa. In closing, a selection of topical international cases that raise interesting issues regarding the effectiveness of class actions in an international context are studied and discussed.

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