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CMS European Class Actions Report 2021

First report on the true picture of European class action risk, a key concern for major corporates 

Welcome to the first edition of the CMS European Class Action report. European class action risk is increasingly a board level issue. Change is being driven by the introduction of new procedural mechanisms intended to facilitate collective proceedings, a pro-active claimant bar and both by new entrant law firms and the increasing availability of litigation funding.

Identifying the factors that are driving change is helpful, but it does not – in and of itself – shine any light on the contours of the risk:

  • to what extent is class action risk increasing?
  • in which countries is risk increasing?
  • which industries are being targeted and for what types of claim (product liability, data protection, competition, etc.)?

This unique publication maps the contours. We conducted a major study of collective proceedings filed in Europe over the past five years, gathering information on each qualifying claim. We then identified key trends which we set out in this report. Our report is data- driven to give an accurate picture of what is actually happening in Europe.

The report is intended to be a single resource for understanding the shape of class action risk in Europe. In this context, the trends revealed in our data are key but we also comment on the issues that are driving risk for defendants.

The key findings of the 2021 report include:

  • The number of class actions filed in Europe increased by over 120% between 2018 and 2020.
  • Increasing availability of U.S.-style optout mechanisms in Europe is a major concern for businesses.
  • Claimant law firms and litigation funders both see class actions as attractive opportunities.
  • Class actions against the technology sector are increasing dramatically, with 15 times the number of claims filed in 2020 as in 2017 (i.e. growth of 1400%).
  • Data protection claims grew 11 times (i.e. by 1000%) between 2016 and 2020.
  • The UK has seen particular growth in class actions in recent years. Areas of risk are: competition class actions; data protection class actions; product liability and foreign torts/environmental claims.
  • Areas of future class action risk are product liability/artificial intelligence and climate change litigation.

The special features of this report are as follows:

  • Hot topics – 5 things business should know about European class actions
  • What is driving growth?
  • The rise of opt-outs
  • The Representative Actions Directive
  • Internationalisation of class actions
  • What claims are being filed?
  • Spotlight on: UK, Germany and the Netherlands
  • Future Risks

Download the CMS European Class Action Report 2021 here

Boat at the sea
CMS European Class Actions Report 2021
PDF 8.4 MB


Kenny Henderson
Kenny Henderson
Zsolt Okányi
Dr. Zsolt Okányi
Global Head of Dispute Resolution, CMS, Head of Dispute Resolution, Hungary
Leah Gardner

CMS has the most extensive European footprint of any law firm in the world, which makes us ideally placed to seamlessly support clients facing cross-border European class actions. Contact any member of our expert team in your jurisdiction for further information and support.


Key contact

Kenny Henderson
T +44 20 7367 3622

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