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Mass Claims in The Netherlands

by Colin Rule
July 2012

  • Novo Justice Blog by Colin Rule

    Colin Rule

    “The Dutch ‘Class Action (Financial Settlement) Act’ (‘WCAM’)

    The Dutch ‘Class Action (Financial Settlement) Act [WCAM] came into operation in the Netherlands on 27 July 2005.

    These new rules enable the effective and efficient settlement of mass damages claims. They provide a facility whereby an agreement which provides for the settlement of a mass damages claim, and which is concluded between an organisation championing the interests of those who have sustained a loss and the responsible party or parties, may be declared binding by the court in relation to the entire group of victims. These victims can then arrange for payment of their losses by virtue of the agreement. The Dutch Act appears to have been a success during the brief period of its existence. Virtually all of the parties – courts, lawyers, interest groups, those who caused the losses in the first place and academics – are enthusiastic about the Act and the possibilities it offers. Now that the topic of ‘mass damages’ is high on the European agenda, it seems an appropriate time to provide information to those who might be interested inthe background and contents of the Act, as well as in the initial experiences of involved parties with respect to the Act. This is all the more relevant because the Act opts for a collective settlement as the route for resolving mass damage claims – a unique approach in Europe, but one which seems to explain the success of the Act… “


    Colin Rule has worked at the intersection of technology and conflict resolution for the last two decades. He is CEO of, an online dispute resolution service provider in Silicon Valley, and a non-resident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. From 2003 to 2011, he served as eBay and PayPal's first director of Online Dispute Resolution, designing and implementing systems that now resolve more than 60 million disputes each year. Mr. Rule is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has presented and trained around the world for organizations including the U.S. Department of State, UNCITRAL, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, as well as teaching at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, Southern Methodist University, and Hastings College of the Law. He has written and been interviewed extensively about the Internet since 1999, with columns and articles appearing in ACResolution, Consensus, Dispute Resolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He holds a master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a B.A. in peace studies from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.

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