Launch event of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence INspiRE
(...) In the USA, solutions have already been found for customers through the possibility of class actions. Do such mechanisms also help in Europe or are they rather a danger? Five experts from the academic and practical worlds from Berlin, Munich, Konstanz and Augsburg passionately discussed the curse or blessing of such instruments at Augsburg City Hall on 18 July 2017, hosted by the Europa-Union Augsburg, the europe direct Information Centre and the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence INspiRE from the Faculty of Law at the University of Augsburg. The pros and cons were discussed by Dr Beate Czerwenka from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Florian Popella, responsible for policy issues at BayME, Bavarian Business Association, Prof. Dr Astrid Stadler from the University of Konstanz, Dr Ottmar Lell from the Federation of German Consumer Organisations and Prof. Dr Thomas M.J. Möllers from the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence. The discussion was hosted by Thorsten Frank, Chairman of the Europa-Union Augsburg e.V. The main point of the discussion was the tension between consumer protection and the protection of corporate interests. After all, in the case of class actions, consumer protection also means a higher burden for defendant companies. On this issue, the experts addressed possible solutions and looked for a middle ground.
Prof. Dr Möllers summarised the ideas: The aim of class actions should not be to harm companies. However, it must remain possible to skim off a profit generated by a company's unlawful conduct, which can also go beyond the plaintiff's purely material damages. However, exorbitant fines, as they are known from US-American jurisdiction, must not be reached. All participants in the panel discussion agreed on this point.