White & Case Partner Marc Israel talks about the chances of the UK getting a US class actions culture, ahead of his session at The Lawyer’s Managing Risk and Litigation conference next month.

Is Britain on its way of getting a US ‘class actions culture’?

Marc Israel

Not any time soon. Whilst there are changes that may superficially look like class actions in some respects in my area of competition law – e.g. the ability to bring opt-out collective proceedings before the Competition Appeal Tribunal – there are still a large number of differences.

We have certainly seen a cultural shift in the willingness of claimants to bring actions for damages following cartel and other competition law infringements, but they are different to US-style class actions.

Is the risk of class actions significant only for businesses with exposure in the US?

Not in my area of competition law. The collective actions, as well as follow-on damages cases, that we see here relate to conduct that occurred in Europe. The companies concerned may also have been involved in anti-competitive conduct in the US – which may lead to litigation there – but is often quite separate.

Can arbitration eliminate the risk of class actions?

In the area of competition law, I’m not sure that many damages cases have been arbitrated. To the extent arbitration is used it is likely to involve the more substantial claimants so could well reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of collective proceedings here.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you have done instead?

Become an architect, but was put off by another 7 years of study.

Marc Israel is one of the 30+ speakers at this year’s Managing Risk and Litigation conference taking place in London on the 5th December. For more information on the conference, a copy of the agenda, or to enquire about tickets to attend, please contact Bruce Allmand-Smith on +44(0) 20 7970 4625 or Bruce.Allmand-Smith@centaurmedia.com.