Faculté de droit, de sciences politiques et de gestion

Class action: cross analysis in law, history, economy and sociology

  • Cours (CM) 24h
  • Cours intégrés (CI) -
  • Travaux dirigés (TD) -
  • Travaux pratiques (TP) -
  • Travail étudiant (TE) -

Langue de l'enseignement : Anglais

Niveau de l'enseignement : B2-Avancé - Utilisateur indépendant

Description du contenu de l'enseignement

Code Apogée : DA0BMMCA
Cet enseignement est proposé au 1er semestre.

Please note : Students in Law (except ERASMUS Students) are not entitled to register in this course.
Course modality : E-learning ; The pedagogical videos will be uploaded in moodle. Each student will be able to organize his own schedule. Assessment : 30 mn online quiz examination.

This course aims to promote critical and multidisciplinary reflection on the well-known legal mechanism of class action, which covers the situation where a large group of entities (known as a “class”) may challenge a defendant’s allegedly unlawful conduct in a single lawsuit, rather than through numerous, separate suits initiated by individual plaintiffs.

What is a legal but also a social phenomenon will be highlighted by history, economy, sociology and culture as well as class actions play an important part in American movies. The course thus intends to insist on the notion of group and class in sociology and law and also on class actions ‘economic benefits and risks.

Born in medieval England and developed in the USA, class actions were lately introduced in France by Law no. 2014-344 of 17 March 2014 after years of hesitation. That’s why a focus will be made on the French class action, built far away from the American model in order to escape from its risks of abuse. However, the French class action is proving to be a flop and the reasons of this failure are to be considered through a cross-analysis in sociology, procedure law, tort law and comparative law.

The course will be taught by Sylvie Pierre-Maurice, Magalie Nord-Wagner and Nicolas Nord, all associate Professors in Unistra University.

The course will be divided in two main parts, as follows:

I/ Introducing class action :
  • Class action and history :
    - The history of class action;
    - The ten biggest class action la wsuits in the world.
  • Class action and culture :
    Individual action and class action : two models of lawsuit in movies.
  • Class action and sociology :
    What is a group or a class, according to sociology and law?
  • Class action and economy :
    Class actions ‘economic benefits and risks (between deterrence and punishment) :
    - Economic benefits (Economizing Litigation, Aggregation of Individual Claims, Protecting Defendants from Inconsistent Adjudications);
    - Economic risks (Abusive and Costly Litigation, Lawyer-Driven Litigation, Tarnishing firms’ reputation and mediation, Punitive damages and risk of bankruptcy, Unfair compensation due to the lawfirms’ too high fees).
  • Class action, European law and international law

II/ Focus on the French class action :

- The French class action, far from the American model (French historical background, differences, other European models);
- The French Class action and Access to Justice (associations’, victims’ and judges' role);
- The victims ‘compensation.

Compétences à acquérir

Knowledge :
  1. Explain the historical and ideological notion of class action;
  2. Identify the most famous class action lawsuits;
  3. Be aware of the risks and limits of the class action mechanism;
  4. Have an overview on class actions comparative law.
Skills :
  1. Be able to discuss class action, gathering a multidisciplinary argumentation for and against and more importantly on the different models of class action;
  2. Develop a cross analysis on the legal mechanism thanks to economy and sociologyBecome familiar with the English legal vocabulary and practice legal English;
  3. Become familiar with the English legal vocabulary and practice legal English.

Bibliographie, lectures recommandées

  • Burbank, Stephen B. (June 2008). "The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 in Historical Context: A Preliminary Review" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  • Deffains Bruno, Doriat-Duban Myriam, Langlais Éric, Économie des actions collectives, Droit et Justice, PUF 2008.
  • Jeuland Emmanuel, Substitution ou représentation ? A propos du projet d'action de groupe, JCP 2013. Act. 927.
  • Lewis, Kevin M., Freeman Wilson C., Class Action Lawsuits: A Legal Overview for the 115th Congress, April 11, 2018.
  • Molfessis Nicolas, L’exorbitance de l’action de groupe à la française, D. 2014, 947.
  • Mullenix Linda S., Ending Class Actions as We Know Them: Rethinking the American Class Action, 64 EMORY L.J. 399, 401 (2014).
  • Yeazell, Stephen C. (1987), From Medieval Group Litigation to the Modern Class Action. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Clark Stuart and Loveday Colin (2004). "Class Actions in Australia - An Overnew" (PDF).
  • "Do Class Actions Benefit Class Members?", www.instituteforlegalreform.com. Retrieved 2016-01-17.


Faculté de droit, de sciences politiques et de gestion

1, place d'Athènes

Formulaire de contact


Sylvie Pierre-Maurice

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