The United Kingdom is regarded as the most ‘fertile’ ground in Europe for class actions, according to the results of a new survey of company executives and corporate counsel.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents to the poll, carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by U.S. law firm Bryan Cave, said they expected to see collective litigation take root in the U.K. over the next three years.Over half (59 percent) of the 240 participants in the poll said they expected consumer goods companies to be targeted in particular, with two-thirds (67 percent) highlighting product liability as a key area.Commenting on the findings, Bryan Cave litigation partner Lawrence Scarborough said there was growing interest in class actions amongst European consumers.He said: “The results of this research paint a sobering picture for European companies, especially in the U.K. Businesses that have not examined their contingency plans for such legal action could be placing themselves at great risks, especially as plaintiffs’ lawyers are getting better at deploying evidence across jurisdictions.”The results come after U.S. class action specialist Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll — which is currently leading a class action in the U.S. against Virgin for its involvement in a price-fixing scandal over fuel surcharges �- said it was considering starting the U.K.’s first collective action, with a number of supermarkets and dairies set to be targeted over alleged price-fixing.In September the Office of Fair Trading held a hearing on proposals that would allow for U.S.-style class actions to take place in the U.K.