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EC Wants Europe To Become Litigious

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The European Commission thinks it would be peachy keen if Europe got more litigious and consumers and business could lodge private antitrust suits – like they do in America – “whilst avoiding the potential excesses of the US system.”

In other words, open up the system to sort of like what Microsoft faced after the government’s antitrust suit: suits from Sun, AOL, RealNetworks et al plus all those “Windows cost too much” consumer suits.

The EC says – and we’re tempted to think it’s thinking specifically of Microsoft – that victims are out billions of euros a year. However, the traditional rules and procedures on civil liability in force in most EU countries “appear to be inappropriate for antitrust damages cases,” it said.

So it’s proposing to sweep away the existing obstacles and if all goes well during the public comment period on its white paper that runs until July 15 it might be able to table some legislative proposals by the end of the year.

It’s proposing compensation through single damages, collective redress through consumer groups (as opposed to class action suits) and limits on discovery.

Four out of five antitrust suits in the US are private.

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