Friday, December 30, 2005

EC seeks to foster private actions in antitrust matters...

On 20 December 2005 the European Commission released a Green Paper concerning private actions for damages in the antitrust enforcement context. The Green Paper may be accessed here.

The tone of the Green Paper is unambiguous: The EC is seeking to encourage more private actions for damages in the antitrust context. According to the EC, there are two types of such private actions: (i) 'follow-on', meaning an action that follows a determination of non-compliance by a national competition authority; and (ii) 'stand-alone', meaning there has been no action taken by the national competition authority.

The EC seeks comment on a wide range of issues relating to this matter, including: (i) discovery procedures; (ii) damages issues--including the possibility of double damages; (iii) collective actions in the consumer-harm context; and (iv) coordination of private actions with public actions.

Comments responsive to the Green Paper must be submitted to the EC by no later than 21 April 2006, and should be emailed to: comp-damages-actions@cec.eu.int

Friday, December 23, 2005

Considering mediation in the context of employment disputes

Speechly Bircam senior partner Alan Julyan recently authored this thoughtful article concerning mediation procedures for employment disputes. Julyan claims that the take up of mediation in employment disputes lags behind its use in civil and commercial matters.

Julyan writes in part:

Ignorance of the process, and in particular its effectiveness and cost, is probably still one of the major factors inhibiting the growth of mediation in employment disputes. Although many more people are becoming involved in mediation, the lack of publicity about the successful outcome achieved by mediation obviously inhibits its growth as a means of resolving disputes and does little to dispel some of the ignorance of the process. Employees in particular fear that their employer will use mediation to gain information about their claim, cynically run up costs or, in fact, use the process to bully them into submission, or to use the process in order to demonstrate that it had been tried but have no real desire to resolve the dispute through mediation.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

ABI publishes personal injury compensation reform plan

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) just published its reform plan for the U.K.'s personal injury compensation system. You may view the ABI's proposal here (16-page .pdf file)

The highlights of the ABI reform proposal are:

* It would cover personal injury accident claims of GBP 25000 or less;

* A public tariff of general damages;

* A streamlined system that involves mediation as the required first step; and

* Higher penalties for claimants and insurers that abuse the system.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Constitutional Affairs Committee urges small claims court improvements

The Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee (UK) today released a report addressing the issue of access to justice via the small claims courts. The Committee recommends:

* Increasing the upper limit on small claims from £1000 to £2500;

* That the DCA 'urgently implement and monitor measures to improve [small claims] enforcement'; and

* That that DCA 'place greater priority on providing adequate IT facilities which would be much more efficient and provide for a better service to the public.'

Alan Beith, Chair of the Committee, said:

The small claims system is an absolutely essential part of giving ordinary people, who can’t necessarily risk getting involved in a case with huge legal fees, access to justice and a means of redress in this country. That is why it is all the more important that the county courts have the proper facilities they need, and that when someone does get a successful judgement, the means are there to ensure it gets enforced, both for the claimant’s benefit and for the credibility of the system.
Click here for the full report.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Parliament considers the U.K.'s 'compensation culture'

The U.K. Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee will tomorrow receive testimony on the issue of the so-called 'compensation culture'. In particular, the Committee will hear from:

Rt Hon Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Chief Justice;
Judge Peter Hurst, Senior Costs Judge;
District Judge Michael Walker; and
District Judge David Oldham, Association of District Judges

The Committee meeting starts at 4:30 pm (UK) and might be broadcast on the internet. Click here at that time tomorrow to check.