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This book examines the principal trends and policy goals relating to collective redress mechanisms in Europe. It identifies three principal areas in which procedures and debates have emerged: within consumer protection and competition law, and from some national court systems. It identifies differing national models of public and private enforcement in consumer protection law in the Member States, and the search for more efficient and inclusive procedures that would deliver increased access to justice and enhanced compliance with desired standards (arguably through deterrence).
A sequence of case studies illustrates the pros and cons of differing models. Lessons are also drawn from the experience of class actions in the USA over the transactional costs of private law mechanisms, and adverse economic consequences.
The various policy strands are unravelled and prioritised, and options for the future are recommended. The American 'private enforcement' model is contrasted with the more prevalent European public and mediated enforcement tradition. New developments involving Ombudsmen and oversight of compensation by public enforcement bodies are identified, and underlying theories of restorative justice and responsive regulation discussed. Public, private, formal, informal, ADR and voluntary methodologies are evaluated against criteria, and it is concluded that the optimal options for collective redress in Europe involve a combination of approaches, with priority given to public and voluntary solutions over private court-based mechanisms.