Administrative and Judicial Collective Enforcement of Consumer Law in the US and the European Community
EUI LAW Working Paper No. 2007/22
55 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2007
Date Written: August 2007
In the consumer society, as it stands today in Western-type democracies, consumers have a far larger choice of products and services originating from all over the world than they did decades ago. Risks associated with products and services have also increased, as have mass problems and mass damages, often in a transborder dimension. The US and the European Community, though battling against common problems, maintain different standard setting and enforcement regimes. This paper focuses on enforcement regimes, thereby distinguishing between administrative enforcement via agencies and judicial collective enforcement via European collective actions and US class actions. The existing theoretical framework depicting administrative and judicial enforcement as alternative strategies is contrasted against modern developments in the US and the EC. In the field of consumer protection administrative control and judicial collective enforcement are being understood more as functional complements than alternatives. Enforcement covers negotiation, settlement, adjudication and arbitration. The analysis of the institutional variables determining the choice between administrative and judicial control - ex ante vs. ex post control, injunctive relief versus damages, personal injuries and economic losses, sector specificity vs. general instruments to protect consumers, public agencies vs. private organisations - provide the ground for preliminary thoughts on a revised theoretical approach.
Keywords: consumer protection, judicial enforcement, class action, administrative agencies, transborder litigation
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