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General

Dutch legislation looks to make collective claims possible

Thursday 17 May 2018 | 13:33 CET | News
The Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security wants better insight into the costs of collective damages lawsuits. A bill is going through the Lower House of Parliament that would make it possible for a group of victims to file a claim against a company or organisation at the same time. This is not possible at the moment, as current legislation does not offer an official way to file a mass claim. It is possible to collect a group of complainants and to do the substantive preparation together. Every victim must still go to court to file a claim. 

 

Several claim organisations navigate within the existing legal space as much as possible, for example against "free" mobile phones. Various claims have been started about this marketing issue. Some claim foundations raise money in advance for mass cases. This has however led to abuse and is at odds with certain aspects of the law. The new bill is also aimed at setting limits on claim organisations. A balance must be struck between the interests of the victims and those of the perpetrators.

Political parties in Parliament have submitted a series of questions and remarks to Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker. In response, Dekker wrote: "The proposal offers groups of citizens who have been disadvantaged by the same event, a coordinated and efficient settlement of their case by the judge in a collective procedure."

"At the same time, people involved in the procedure for a mass claim will also know that they can effectively deal with a series of claims through this collective procedure and that they will not have to face different claimants every time again. (...) In this way, the proceedings represent the interests of both victims and the party addressed."

Government sets down rules for claim organisations

Parliament wants to ensure clarity around cases, about who is bringing the case to court, who is involved and what will happen if there are multiple suits. There should be a main representative in each case and consequences if co-claimants do not fulfill their expected role. The government also wants to review the financing of collective claims so that there is no interference from parties looking to profit from cases. 

EU directive

The bill has been in preparation since 2016. No timeline going forward has been given. Meanwhile, the European Commission presented a "New deal for Consumers" on 11 April. It includes a proposed directive for collective settlement of mass damage of consumers. An important element here is that claim organisations can only proceed if they do not have profit as their motive. The deal also specifies what damages can go for mass claims in court. Dekker wrote to Parliament that the EU proposal provides room for EU member states to adopt their own laws or to choose for an opt-out.



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Categories: General
Countries: Netherlands
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