Under the timeline imposed by the EU’s Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers, the EU’s 27 member states were required to provide a collective litigation option to consumers by December 25, 2022, including by adopting or amending national law in jurisdictions where mechanisms for such litigation were not previously established. By June 25, 2023, member states are required to implement and begin applying these new mechanisms. But while that process is still ongoing, multiple EU member states have already taken legislative action to permit greater collective litigation mechanisms than previously available in their respective jurisdictions. Additionally, legal industry observers have already noted the increased presence of plaintiffs’ firms and litigation funders in the EU in response to the greater and increasing availability of representative and collective redress actions. See K. Henderson, Z. Okanyi, et al., European Class Action Report 2022, at 2, CMS (2022), available at https://cms.law/en/int/publication/cms-european-class-actions-report-2022.
In particular, one study noted that class action filings in Europe had increased more than 120% over the last five years (from 49 in 2018 to 110 in 2021), propelled by greater attention to potential mass actions by plaintiffs’ firms and increased availability of litigation funding. The data confirms what practitioners in this space already know: the plaintiffs’ bar in the EU is not waiting for the full implementation of the Representative Actions Directive. Of particular note, this rise is fueled, in significant part, by product liability, personal injury, and consumer mass actions.