On 1 January 2020 the Act on redress of mass damages in a collective action (Wet afwikkeling massaschade in collectieve actie, "WAMCA") entered into force. This Act enables representative entities to bring damages claims on behalf of (international) parties in a class action before any district court in the Netherlands. The court can then award damages in its judgment, which was only possible under the prior regime (i) if parties had reached a collective settlement under the Act on the collective settlement of mass damages (Wet Collectieve Afwikkeling Massaschade, "WCAM"), (ii) by initiating individual damages claims after the representative entity had obtained a declaratory judgment or (iii) when the litigation was structured through an SPV.
The WAMCA therefore creates a potentially powerful tool for claimants to create leverage in settlement discussions. Although the legislator aimed to provide for a balanced and efficient system, whether the new Dutch class actions regime will also provide defendants with an effective way to deal with a mass claim setting, remains to be seen.
The new regime only applies to class actions initiated on or after 1 January 2020 and that relate to events that took place on or after 15 November 2016.