The Special Case of Mass Torts
The Special Case of Mass Torts deals with mass torts, meaning for example cases where a great number of claimants have suffered harm for which compensation is sought in an action against the same defendant. In such cases European jurisdictions often tend to ad hoc resolutions established for a specific case which do not always fit in the traditional system of tort law. These classic rules of tort law on the other hand are made for individual damages of one or a few persons and do not always provide solutions for cases of mass torts. At least on the level of civil procedure it seems reasonable in such cases to strike a different path than the usual one. Be it through a joinder of claims, be it through the famous class actions which are recently intensively discussed for European jurisdictions. This new research project shall discover whether the existing instruments of tort law are sufficient or should be adapted to solve cases of mass torts or whether specific rules would be better.
Rather than focussing on country reports and a comparative synthesis, the project is intended to be split up in two main parts. The first part will consist of case studies of particular incidents of mass tort provided by experts in their field for an insight into the practical operation of the law in the cases at hand. The second part will cover general issues, written by outstanding scholars with a broad and comparative vision on the issue at hand. Further details are currently under discussion between the project leaders – Prof. Willem van Boom (University of Rotterdam) and Prof. Gerhard Wagner (University of Bonn) – and Munich Re who is cooperating with ECTIL and ETL on this project.