EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes has called for wholesale reform to encourage private litigation of competition abuses.
The existing system creates too many hurdles for plaintiffs, she told a conference in Paris.
"Steps towards more private enforcement of European competition rules would require a solid and balanced legal framework and a good dose of common sense," said Kroes.
The hurdles include the difficulty of proving cases when most of the evidence is in the hands of the defendant. She said the fear of failure and the huge legal costs incurred deterred plaintiffs from going to court, even when they have a good case.
The European Commission is preparing a green paper designed to encourage this private litigation of competition abuses.
The green paper is expected to consider guaranteeing plaintiffs access to evidence, allowing financial risk assessments of plaintiffs to be considered when allotting costs and allowing collective damages actions.