Consumer Arbitration and Collective Dispute Resolution in the European Union, Is Class Arbitration an Alternative?

Michael K.M. De Boeck
Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law, Students; Ghent University-Universiteit Gent, Faculty of Law, Students

May 15, 2012

Abstract:

This paper is a master (LLM) thesis submitted in 2012 for the degree of Master of Laws and was graded 19/20. It has not been updated, but remains mostly relevant as it includes references to the ADR/ODR directives which were then under discussion.

In a first chapter this thesis presents the origin of class arbitration in the US, its implications on consumers’ legal rights, the procedures and the current debate around class arbitration. After having examined the device itself, we turn to its application and to the scrutiny it may receive under the New York Convention. The result of this chapter shows that class arbitration may be recognized in Europe, but there are no guarantees. Most likely, due to national standards of public policy concerning fundamental procedural issues of notice and consent, recognition will depend on a case-by-case analysis of the factual circumstances.

By measuring class arbitration against class litigation available in Europe, the second chapter of this thesis offers insights into the desirability of class arbitration. The debate is closely related to that of the fear around class litigation abuses. The conclusion is that while it may take several more years before a coherent judicial procedure is adopted at EU level, class arbitration is available today in virtually any format one may desire and is generally recognized throughout the world. The opposition it receives is therefore perhaps not justified.

Consumer Arbitration and Collective Dispute Resolution in the European Union, Is Class Arbitration an Alternative?

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