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Adjudication is a form of ADR, (see below) normally more informal than arbitration. It involves an independent adjudicator who is forming a decision which does not have the same binding force as the decision of an arbitrator.

Administrative Justice

Administrative justice is the law that regulates decision-making by public authorities and the systems (such as various tribunals and ombudsmen) that enable people to challenge these decisions.

Aggravated Damages

Damages calculated in the abstract, which are added to general damages. Their aim is to compensate for moral harm (e.g. injury to feelings), particularly if the wrongdoer's actions were motivated by malice.

Various out-of-court mechanisms for resolving disputes and providing redress.

American Rule

According to the American Rule, which is pre-dominantly in force in the United States, in civil litigation each party is responsible for paying its own attorney's fees, unless specific authority granted by statute or contract allows the assessment of those fees against the other party. As a general rule alsoin class actions, each party bears its own fees and costs, regardless of whether that party wins or loses.

Arbitration is one form of ADR It has aspects in common with litigation and can be equally cumbersome. It is relatively formal, and it involves an independent third party (or a panel of independent individuals) agreed by the parties in dispute, who considers both sides of the dispute and makes a binding decision.


Brussels I

This mechanism regulates jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgements: Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on the jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matter.


CDR/Consumer ADR

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms which serve consumers are sometimes called Consumer ADR. In a more shorter version the term Consumer Dispute Resolution (CDR) is used. Leading CDR schemes operate on digital files. CDR models cover a wide range of processes from arbitration-style ADR to sophisticated Ombudsman.


Civil justice is a broad term historically denoting judicial systems designed to produce legal remedies in non-criminal disputes.

Civil Procedure

Rules governing proceedings before civil courts. The EU has for many years been pursuing a policy of harmonization of civil procedure rules of its Member States – as part of the policy of Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Commercial Matters.

A civil procedure which originated in the United States, based on Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It is essentially a representative procedure – a number of representative claimants take legal action in the name of all members of the class claiming damages.

Collective Redress

Collective redress is an umbrella term to denote systems designed to compensate multiple parties for a common infringement. It includes a wider category of redress mechanisms than those based on litigation: it can also involve public enforcement by regulators or ombudsmen (see also the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation), the use of ADR mechanisms, or various compensation schemes or funds (see no-fault compensation).

See also class action, group actions, representative actions.

Compensation, Damages

Money payable in compensation for a civil wrong.


Another form of ADR, which is very similar to mediation. It is voluntary, led by an impartial and independent conciliator, whose decision is not binding on the parties.

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice, as distinct from civil justice, is a system of rules and practices by which public authorities, including criminal courts, exercise social control, deter crime, and sanction with criminal penalties those who breach the law.


Damages Actions

Proceedings in court or before a public enforcement body which aims at obtaining compensation/damages (as opposed to an Injunctive action which has different aims).


The European Consumer Centres Network is a network of bodies providing advice and assistance on consumer rights and means of obtaining redress, especially with regard to cross-border issues. The Network is a product of a merger of two earlier networks of consumer advice bodies.


Group Actions

Are also referred to as collective actions. Normally they would involve a group of claimants, but are organized in a different manner than the US-style actions. European legal systems have developed their own models of group actions: see for instance the Swedish model, the Spanish model, or the Bulgarian model.


Action in court or before a public enforcement body which aims at obtaining an injunction (ordering specific action or cessation of action by a specified person/persons/organization). Injunctions/injunctive actions have been crucial for enforcement of consumer law, also on the EU (cross-border) level.

An insurance policy taken out by one of the litigation parties, after the event giving rise to litigation (for instance an injury).


Litigation costs

Costs incurred during litigation: including court fees, legal fees, reimbursement of any expenses, experts’ and witnesses fees and reimbursement of expenses.

Litigation funding (legal aid, CFAs, Contingency Fees, Third Party Funders, Jackson review)

Loser pays rule

The rule which prevails across the European civil litigation systems, where the winning party can recover the costs from the losing party. The opposite is the American Rule under which the losing party generally does not need to reimburse the prevailing party.


Another form of ADR, which is less formal than Arbitration, and perhaps more suitable for consumer disputes. It is essentially a managed process of negotiation between the parties. It is quite different from adjudication or arbitration, although sometimes it can be a preliminary step in other forms of ADR.


Another form of ADR. Ombudsmen can be regarded as an advanced form of ADR as they normally have a wider range of functions. This starts by capturing complaints and identifying problems. They are trying to solve them and proposing redress measures. But also providing information and feedback. A monitoring allows learning on improvements.

Online Dispute Resolution / ODR

An EU platform that allows consumers and traders to settle disputes relating to online purchases with the assistance of an impartial dispute resolution body.

Opt-out and Opt-in collective actions

Opt-out collective action, once the class/group is certified, includes all those class members who have not opted out. See for instance the U.S. Class action model. Opt-in collective action requires an act of opting in for a potential class/group member to become formally a class/group member. Most European collective litigation models are opt-in procedures.


Damages awarded in excess of any actual damage or loss suffered by the claimant, for the purpose of punishing the defendant's conduct and deterring other potential wrongdoers. They normally supplement compensatory damages. Punitive damages are available in the US system but normally not in the EU.


The Council of Ministers makes most pieces of legislation on the basis of "qualified majority voting" (so-called 'weighted voting'). The system is designed as follows: each Member State is allocated a specified number of votes, based on the size of its population. Thus, the states with the largest population – France, Germany, Italy and the UK – each have 29 votes. The smallest member, Malta, has 3 votes.


Compensation for losses or damages, or by means of an injunction.

This technique refers to the concept of an intervention through a public authority.

Representative Actions

A type of collective action where a representative is one of the claimants, or a representative organization/body (such as an Ombudsman, or a consumer association). In the latter case, (which is the model proposed by the Commission's proposed Directive for Representative Actions based on the Injunctions Directive), the representative body takes action in the name of the group members who themselves are not claimants, but only beneficiaries.


Small claims are typically consumer claims. While most European states have specific procedures for dealing with them (as cheaper and quicker alternatives to ordinary court procedures), they differ widely across the EU.

In recognition of these differences, the EU has introduced a harmonised European Small Claims Procedure. It is a streamlined system, for bringing consumers disputes to court where the trader is in a different EU country.

Commenced working in 2002, operated by EU Member States and coordinated by the Commission. Solvit is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for those willing to use the Internal Market (for instance move to another Member State and establish a business there), if they encountered a problem with issues such as recognition of professional qualifications, residence permits, social security, employment rights, market access for products or services, etc.


Third-Party Litigation Funding / TPLF

Third-party litigation funding (TPLF) shall enable a claimant to litigate or arbitrate without having to pay for it. A third party funder can pay some or all of the costs/expenses associated with a dispute in return for a share of the proceeds of the dispute if it is successful. In case the litigation is not successful, the funder is generally not paid.