On 4 December 2019, two decrees relating to new legislation on collective actions were published in the Dutch State Gazette. These decrees confirm the effective date and specify the mechanics for the Class Action Register.
The first decree confirms that the new Act on Collective Damages in Class Actions (WAMCA) will enter into effect as of 1 January 2020. Please refer to our news item of 20 March 2019 for the main changes that the WAMCA brings. Most importantly, claims in class actions filed after the WAMCA taking effect can relate to monetary damages in case they concern events on or after 15 November 2016. Although the Dutch class action system has always been at the forefront of Europe, monetary damages were previously unavailable in a class action.
Class Action Register
Another important change that the WAMCA introduces is a lead plaintiff system that is in some ways comparable to the system used in the US. This is what the second decree is all about. This 'Class Action Register Decree' appoints the Judiciary Council (Raad voor de Rechtspraak) as the authority that keeps a central register for class actions relating to the same event. Dutch courts will from now on stay new class actions for three months to enable other claim organisations to bring their class action(s) for the same events. Subsequently, the court time can designate an 'exclusive representative' for the class if multiple organisations bring suit.
Information to be registered
Practically, the claim organisation will need to register a copy of the writ of summons by which it has brought the class action. Registration is required within two business days after serving notice on the defendant(s). The courts will also have to record certain information in the register, including any collective settlement that the court approves for such class action and any court rulings on the designation of the exclusive representative and a court determination of collective monetary damages.
GDPR and anonymization
The register will be made publicly accessible through the website rechtspraak.nl (also used for publication of for instance public court judgments and bankruptcies). The decree explicitly acknowledges (potential) GDPR aspects and requires that names of private persons are left out when writs of summons and court rulings are registered.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.