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Nearly half of European lawyers and business executives expect courts in their country to move toward class-action litigation within the next three years, according to a new survey. The United Kingdom is most likely to allow collective lawsuits, the survey found. Nearly 60% of respondents expect consumer good companies to be targeted, 50% think pharmaceuticals will be the focus, followed by 42% who expect financial service industries are most likely to be affected. The survey, “Collective litigation in Europe,” was created by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a provider of country, industry and management analysis, and sponsored by Bryan Cave, which has more than 700 lawyers in 17 worldwide offices. The 23-page report consisted of responses from 242 lawyers and business executives from across Europe, who were surveyed in September. Nearly 70% of respondents said they expect litigation to arise from product liability, followed by 38% who named price-fixing and cartels and 28% who named shareholder rights disputes. There are signs that Europeans see some features of the U.S. class action system will become introduced. For example, 60% of respondents expect legal fees will become linked in some way to case outcomes and 43% expect to see the introduction of contingency fees for lawyers as a percentage of court judgments. European companies seem to be responding to this change in the legal climate, with 38% reporting they are implementing systems to monitor customer complaints; 35% training employees in changing safety rules and directives; 33% seeking early settlement of cases that could escalate; and 29% ensuring that insurance policies cover collective claims.

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