By Jos Hoevenaars and Xandra Kramer, Erasmus University Rotterdam (postdoc and PI ERC consolidator project Building EU Civil Justice, Erasmus University Rotterdam)
As is illustrated in a series of blog posts on this website, the current pandemic also has an impact on the administration of justice and on international litigation. As regards collective redress, Matthias Weller reported on the mass litigation against the Austrian Federal State of Tyrol and local tourist businesses. The Austrian Consumer Protection Association (Österreichischer Verbraucherschutzverein, VSV) has been inviting tourists that have been in the ski areas in Tyrol – which turned into Corona infection hotspots – in the period from 5 March 2020 and shortly afterwards discovered that they were infected with the virus, to enrol for claims for damages against the Tyrolean authorities and the Republic of Austria. Hundreds of coronavirus cases in Iceland, the UK, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands can be traced back to that area. Currently over 4,000 (including nearly 400 Dutch nationals) have joined the action by the VSV.
It may be expected that other cases will follow as the global impact of the pandemic is overwhelming, both in terms of health and economic effects, and it seems that early warnings have been ignored. Like for instance the Volkswagen emission case, these events with global impact are those in which collective redress mechanisms – apart perhaps from piggybacking in pending criminal procedures – are the most suitable vehicles. This blog will address mass litigation resulting from the corona crisis and use the opportunity to bring a new Dutch act on collective action to the attention.