Report From London: What A Comparative Analysis Of International Class Action Litigation May Teach USA-Based Companies

By Gerald L. Maatman, Jr.

Duane Morris Takeaways: USA-based companies are experiencing a deluge of class action litigation. At the Thought Leaders Global Class Action Conference in London, Jerry Maatman of the Duane Morris Class Action Defense Group gave a keynote address on the state of U.S. class action litigation and how Asian, European, Australian, and African-based corporations should be “looking around the corner” to ready themselves for new class action theories spreading to their respective jurisdictions. Class and collective-based litigation is likewise growing at a precipitous rate in non-U.S. jurisdictions, and corporations operating in the global economy are subject to a patchwork quilt of procedural and substantive differences in how the plaintiffs’ class action bar is suing defendants and seeking large-scale recoveries.

The London Thought Leaders Global Class Action Conference – with a robust two day agenda and roster of speakers from Europe and Asia – examined diverse issues on cutting-edge class actions on a global basis. Subjects included the phenomenon of the “continuous evolution” of class action theories; the surge of crypto class actions claims; collective, opt-in and opt-out representative actions in England; the dawn of ESG class actions filed by NGO’s, consumers, workers, and advocacy groups; data privacy litigation on a class and collective action basis; and cross-border consumer fraud class action theories.

I had the privilege of speaking on how U.S. class action litigation impacts the global economy and litigation in non-U.S. jurisdictions. For a comparative law panel discussion, I presented along with Professor Miguel Sousa Ferro of the University of Lisbon Law School, and the Managing Partner of Milberg Sousa Ferro, a leading class action firm based in Portugal. We discussed – and debated – a comparison of the procedural differences between USA-style opt-out class action mechanisms and European Union-style opt-in / opt-out procedures. We used the recent opioid class action products liability class actions and European mass tort lawsuits as a case study to compare and contrasts the pros and cons of each judicial system and the array of mechanisms to protect consumers, injured parties, and corporate defendants.

Against that backdrop, Professor Ferro and I analyzed the future of global class actions, especially in light of the record-breaking class action settlement numbers in the USA in 2022 and 2023, which is fueling the explosive growth of class and collective litigation. We agreed that as to various substantive areas, privacy litigation is posed to remain “white hot” and grow over the next few years, as the pace of technology continues to underlie all aspects of the economy.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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