Practice area Mass Damage and InsuranceMass damage is the name given to loss sustained by a sizable group of aggrieved parties. This may include financial loss due to the loss in value of shares, personal injury caused by dangerous medication, exotic financial products or material damage due to earthquakes caused by gas extraction.
In the Netherlands it is possible to settle mass damage for all aggrieved parties collectively. Settling mass damage is complicated, not only for the aggrieved parties but also for the parties held liable and their insurers. Our Mass Damage & Insurance team offers the expertise and experience required to handle and monitor complex, (inter)national mass damage issues, and to advise on complicated insurance matters.
For years, it has been possible in the Netherlands to request courts to establish collective liability (class action). Another special option is to ask a court to declare collective settlements between claimants groups and defendants binding to all aggrieved parties under the Collective Redress of Mass Damage Act (‘WCAM’).
The introduction of the Redress of Mass Damage in Class Action Act (‘WAMCA’) on 1 January 2020 will expand class action possibilities. As from that date courts in class actions can order defendants to pay collective compensation. Before courts could only establish liability; each aggrieved party had to sue individually for compensation. With this obstacle removed, the act is possibly to spark a surge in class actions. However, as the criteria for filing a class action have tightened. This requires increasingly specialist expertise.
The Dirkzwager Mass Damage & Insurance team represents the (liability) insurers of the parties held liable as monitoring or coverage counsel. We also act on behalf of claimants against banks.
Over the past years our team has handled various high-stakes (inter) mass damage cases. Most cases concerned directors’ liability issues. In one case we counseled an international insurer with the parties settling for EUR 1.3 billion, the largest collective settlement ever reached in Europe in similar cases. Mass damage issues are often global in nature because many companies or shareholders are located outside the Netherlands. The sizeable sums at stake and the highly-qualified (foreign) law firms involved make this a particularly complex playing field.
The Dirkzwager Mass Damage & Insurance team has accrued a wealth of knowhow and experience with respect to mass damage and takes up a position as an expert in this field in several national and international publications and presentations.
Our team is made up of the following specialists from the practice group Liability, Loss and Insurance:
- Daan Baas, lawyer partner, regular counsel in cross-border and international disputes.
- Wim Weterings, lawyer/salaried partner and Assistant Professor at Tilburg University at the department of Business Law.
- Niels Dekker, senior lawyer, specialised in professional and product liability.
- Pauline Janssen, lawyer, whose areas of focus include mass damage.
- Jonathan Overes, senior legal assistant, whose responsibilities include research for the practice group.
- Chantal van den Borne, lawyer partner in Banking & Finance, regularly representing claims organisations/claimants in class actions against banks.