King & Wood Mallesons

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Legislating to incentivise competition class actions: recent EU developments

By Sarah Turnbull, Louise Freeman, Elaine Whiteford, Tilman Siebert, Marc Lévy, Riccardo Croce, Ramon Garcia Gallardo and Adèle Behles

While companies currently face the possibility of damages proceedings for competition law breaches in national courts in the European Union, private enforcement actions remain infrequent in Europe when compared with the US. A number of recent proposals to enhance the ability of claimants to seek ‘collective redress’ are intended to address this situation and provide a greater role for private enforcement while guarding against the perceived excesses of US litigation.

In recent months, there have been a series of legislative proposals and recommendations both at EU and domestic level within Europe. This article considers the key developments in the sphere of collective actions and briefly touches on other proposed developments for competition damages actions. The article focuses on the following: EU developments — public v private enforcement; EU recommendation on collective actions; UK — opt-in v opt-out collective action; Germany — no collective actions; France — collective actions debate; Italy — collective actions legislation; Spain — some elements of collective actions; and collective actions in the future.

One of the European Commission’s key aims in recent years has been to promote private enforcement of competition law breaches, including seeking to ensure that the domestic legal orders of the member states do not render compensation too difficult. In doing so, the commission has been conscious not to prejudice or jeopardise public enforcement regimes, either at EU or domestic level…

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