The Times Online has an interesting interview with David Greene (pictured), a partner at Edwin Coe who has the rare distinction of having handled shareholder claims in the UK for 15 years. Among the highlights of the interview are Coe’s insights on proposals now being made in the UK regarding group actions, the current rejection of the American class action system, and the types of damages that may be available in a UK system. Among other things, he states:
There are a number of proposals being made regarding group actions. There is no doubt there will be some changes in the next two years. But I don’t expect them to be radical. I expect a wholesale rejection of anything with an American flavour to it.
You can’t dismiss the US class action system simply because abuses sometimes occur. It gives access to courts for people who want to pursue their rights. It means wrongdoers pay for wrongdoing.
But what won’t happen here is the emergence of trial lawyers rich enough to own their own Lear jets. The damages will always be much lower here than in the US.
The notion that during a recession there is more litigation is not true. It’s not as simple as that. Litigation often depends on asset values. You’ve got to have an asset value to make litigation worthwhile. A downturn reduces that asset value.