Marit Bosselaar, Irene Bloemen and Peter Sprietsma from the Dutch class actions team wrote commentaries on two recent judgments in class actions cases in the Netherlands, which were published in the procedural law journal Jurisprudentie Burgerlijk Procesrecht. The contributions focus on several aspects of the Dutch Collective Damages in Class Action Act (Dutch Acronym: WAMCA), such as the temporal applicability of the WAMCA, the standing of an interest organisation, the admissibility of claims on behalf of several different sub-classes in a single WAMCA-procedure, and litigation funding.
Stichting NUON-Claim / Vattenfall
Marit Bosselaar and Irene Bloemen wrote a commentary on the Vattenfall case. This case was brought on behalf of a group of commercial customers who paid a certain fee to energy supplier Vattenfall, which was alledgely unlawful. There are several aspects of this case which are notable for class actions litigation in the Netherlands. When faced with the question of whether the WAMCA or the pre-WAMCA-regime was temporally applicable to the claims, the court decided to split the group of customers; an outcome that other courts in similar situations have tried to circumvent. In addition, the commentary discusses the standing requirement for an interest organisation under the WAMCA. The court ruled that the interest organisation had to provide evidence that it had, at the very least, a constituency that included alledgely injured customers from both the WAMCA and pre-WAMCA governed claims. Finally, Marit and Irene note the court’s scrutiny of the interest organisation’s litigation funding agreement, in the context of the recent trend in Dutch class actions towards stricter requirements of interest organisations’ funding.
Stichting Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland/Dutch State and Centraal orgaan Opvang Asielzoekers
Marit Bosselaar and Peter Sprietsma published a second commentary that concerns a case brought by an interest organisation championing refugees’ rights against the Dutch State and the public organisation responsible for sheltering asylum seekers. The central question was whether the living conditions at the shelters meet legal minimum standards. From a procedural law point of view, however, the case is interesting because it fits a trend of interest organisations trying to influence government policy through class actions (with the Urgenda case as the most famous example). As such, the court had to consider whether a class action was the appropriate route or whether the issue was properly the territory of the government or the administrative law court. In brief, the court ruled that the interest organisation was admissible, because the factual circumstances of the asylum seekers barred them from bringing a case to the administrative law courts in practice. Furthermore, the case includes interesting considerations of the court on the admissibility of an interest organisation on the basis of dividing the entire constituency into several sub-classes and for bringing various sub-claims for each of those sub-classes.
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Our class actions team always keeps abreast of ongoing developments in Dutch class actions (those governed by the WAMCA and those litigated under the pre-WAMCA regime). Our class actions team regularly publishes commentaries and articles on the developments in Dutch class actions and ESG litigation. The class actions team’s publications are available upon request. For more information, please contact one of the members of our class actions team.