Class actions are a hot topic in Europe, and elsewhere. Various European countries have introduced, or are in the process of introducing, class action mechanisms. At the European Union level a similar development is noticeable, with proposals both in the field of consumer protection and of competition law. The scale and the scope of these legislative reforms are diverse, but the trend is clear and a global move toward class actions is underway.
Belgium does not constitute an exception to this. On 13 March 2014, the Belgian Parliament enacted a law providing for the introduction of class actions into the Belgian judicial system ("loi sur l’action en reparation collective”/“wet over rechtsvordering tot collectief herstel"). It will be inserted as Title 2 in Book XVII of the Belgian Economic Code and will enter into force on a date to be determined by Royal Decree.
Although the current law is restricted to violations of specific legislative acts and the Belgian legislators clearly tried to avoid what is viewed in Europe as the negative consequences of the US class actions system, the increased litigation risk for companies and financial institutions should not be neglected.
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