Politicians and consumer associations promote Collective Redress/Class Action to enable individuals/consumers to pursue claims against corporate entities and others for alleged wrongs resulting in consumer loss where it would not be financially viable to take the claim on an individual basis. The idea is that the Collective Redress/Class Action enables a balance of power and a pursuit of legitimate claims despite the individual amounts in question being small. This provides access to justice whilst at the same time ensuring an opponent is held to account.
Jurisdictions all over the world have introduced legislation and procedures to deal with this. In Germany the Musterfeststellungsklage was put in place in November 2018, in England & Wales there have for some time been specific rules under the Civil Procedure Rules relating to Group Litigation and other multi party claims and, at the time of the Congress, the EU Directive on Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers may well have been finalised so that EU Member States will have to transpose those provisions into national laws. Meanwhile, in the USA and Australia Collective Redress/Class Actions with very specific features and procedural rules, have been well established for many years.
From the view point of consumers and legal protection insurers, Collective Redress/Class Action are in principle to be welcomed if they enable the cost-effective and efficient prosecution of policyholders’ rights. However, the ‘bundling’ of claims brings its own complications. The economics make Collective Redress/Class Action attractive for third parties, and thus new players emerge who pursue their own economic interests as well as those of the claimants. A central issue for the success of Collective Redress/Class Actions is therefore how they are handled, financed who pays the costs and takes on liability for exposure to adverse costs and how is the process managed.
From this angle the RIAD Congress 2019 will scrutinise various jurisdictions and look specifically at the German Musterfeststellungsklage, the EU Directive and existing systems in the USA and Australia: what can we learn from each other? RIAD, the International Association of Legal Protection Insurance, wants to analyse the role of legal protection insurers and other parties in Collective Redress/Class Action with specialists from around the globe and from different sectors: what are best practices and what are the obstacles for legal protection insurers, litigation funders, lawyers, consumer(s)organisations etc.? The RIAD Congress is, as always, also an opportunity for our industry and our partners to exchange know-how and keep abreast of the latest developments in legal protection. In addition, RIAD is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!