April 2017 - international litigation blog
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April 2017

Belgian Court Rules on Recognition of U.S. Class Action Settlements

On 23 March 2017, the Ghent Court of Appeal in Belgium (the Court of Appeal) handed down a lengthy decision on the civil merits in the very well-known Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) case. Although the judgment rendered by the Court of Appeal is very long and covers various legal issues, it contains a specific section on the recognition, in Belgium, of two American opt-out class action settlements.

As most of you know, class action suits are legal devices that allow an individual or a small group of individuals to proceed in court on behalf of a much larger and unnamed group of individuals who have suffered a similar injury and who share common claims.

While class actions form an integral part of the legal framework in the United States, European jurisdictions (with the notable exception of the Netherlands (see my previous post)) tend to be very cautious with respect to this instrument. It is only in June 2013 that the European Union published a recommendation setting out a series of common, non-binding principles that EU Member States should adopt in order to put collective redress mechanisms in place. Based on this recommendation, some EU Members that previously did not allow for collective redress mechanisms have since introduced them into their legal systems.

In sharp contrast with the American class action system – where any individual who fulfils the conditions to be part of a class action will automatically be considered as part of the class bringing the action, unless that member expressively indicates his desire to be excluded from of the proceedings (i.e. “opt-out” system) – most European systems have adhered to an “opt-in” system where plaintiff classes are formed through the expressed consent of their members.

The case at hand therefore concerns an interesting scenario in which the Belgian court, belonging to a jurisdiction where only opt-in class action are allowed, is asked to recognise a U.S. opt-out class action settlement.READ MORE

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The Netherlands to Introduce Possibility for Damages Claims Under Class Action System

As explained in my latest contribution in Business Law International (“Fortis’s Settlement: A comparative case-study of (securities) class action mechanisms in Europe and in the United States“), the Netherlands presently offer one of the most friendly regimes in Europe for collective actions. Unlike the U.S. class action system, however, the Netherlands does not offer the possibility to obtain monetary damages under the current class action rules.

Nevertheless, a new bill (the Bill) recently put before the Dutch legislature suggests that this significant limitation could be on the way out. I therefore wanted to take this opportunity to briefly introduce you to the future changes that might be brought to the class action regime in the Netherlands.READ MORE

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U.S. Second Circuit Clarifies Law on Arbitral Award Enforcement

On 18 January 2017, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals (the Second Circuit) overturned a ruling by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) dismissing an action to enforce an ICC arbitration award rendered in Paris. The judgment (subject to a later correction issued in March) will likely be cited often as it helps clarify how the influential Second Circuit views the enforcement of awards, the applicable law regarding who an award may be enforced against, and what issues an award may preclude from later judgment.READ MORE

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