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What is Collective Redress

Collective litigation is where multiple claimants with similar claims sharing common characteristics seek a remedy against the same defendant or multiple defendants. This is currently receiving an unprecedented level of attention both at the national and EU level.

According to the Commission's Consultation Paper 2011 'Collective redress' is a broad concept encompassing any mechanism that may accomplish the cessation or prevention of unlawful business practices which affect a multitude of claimants or the compensation for the harm caused by such practices. There are two main forms of collective redress: by way of injunctive relief, claimants seek to stop the continuation of illegal behaviour; by way of compensatory relief, they seek damages for the harm caused. Collective redress procedures can take a variety of forms, including out-of-court mechanisms for dispute resolution or, the entrustment of public or other representative entities with the enforcement of collective claims'.

Recently the European Commission has produced a Recommendation on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms in the Member States concerning violations of rights granted under the Union Law. The Recommendation follows the abovementioned Consultation paper and states that 'collective redress' means (i) a legal mechanism that ensures a possibility to claim cessation of illegal behaviour collectively by two or more natural or legal persons or by an entity entitled to bring a representative action (injunctive collective redress); (ii) a legal mechanism that ensures a possibility to claim compensation collectively by two or more natural or legal persons claiming to have been harmed in a mass harm situation or by an entity entitled to bring a representative action (compensatory collective redress)'.

This Recommendation identifies common principles, which should apply in all instances of collective redress, and also those specific either to injunctive, or to compensatory collective redress. Further, the Member States should implement the principles set out in the Recommendation in national collective redress systems within 24 months after the publication of the Recommendation.

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