This post offers a brief comment arising from the now widely reported fact (see, for example, SCOTUSblog and many others) that the U. S. Supreme Court granted certiorari from the 2d Circuit's opinion in the so-called foreign-cubed (a/k/a f- cubed) Rule 10b-5 securities case titled Morrison, et al., v. National Australia Bank, et al. (08-1191), which is sometimes called the NAB case. For the uninitiated, f-cubed refers to 1) "foreign" plaintiffs suing in the US under US law regarding a 2)"foreign" issuer of securities that resulted in the buying and selling of stock in 3) "foreign" countries.
The comment is that one hopes that briefing in the Supreme Court will cover in some depth the scope of class action litigation in countries outside the US. I say that because the 2d Circuit's opinion, slip op at 14 -15, refers to arguments that seem to me both dated and incorrect as to the extent of class action remedies outside the US. On the topic of the growing availability of class actions or class like remedies outside the US, I once again commend to readers a fairly new article titled "Global Litigation Trends." The authors are Mark Behrens, Gregory Fowler and Silvia Kim, who are all Shook Hardy lawyers. The article was published at 17 Michigan State Journal of International Law 166 (2008-09). You can download it here from the TortsProf blog.
Pasted below are the 2d Circuit's statements about class actions outside the US:
"In support of their position, Appellees and amici point to a parade of horribles that they claim
would result if American courts exercised subject matter jurisdiction over such actions. They
contend that this would, among other things, undermine the competitive and effective operation of American securities markets, discourage cross-border economic activity, and cause duplicative
litigation. Their principal objection, though, is that entertaining such actions here would bring our securities laws into conflict with those of other jurisdictions. For instance, in Switzerland, no
comprehensive federal legislation governs securities fraud, and private remedies are the only ones
available. In Canada, securities class actions are recognized, but most provinces do not recognize
the fraud on the market doctrine. In various other countries, class actions are either not available
or the ability of class actions to preclude further litigation is problematic. See, e.g., David A. Skeel, Jr., Can Majority Voting Provisions Do It All?, 52 Emory L.J. 417, 423 (2003) (noting that "most other countries do not have procedural devices that are even remotely similar to the U.S. class action"); Gerhard Walter, Mass Tort Litigation in Germany and Switzerland, 11 Duke J. Comp. & 3 Int'l L. 369, 372 (2001) (observing that "class actions do not exist in Germany, Switzerland, and most other countries of the civil law system"). In essence, Appellees argue that other countries have carefully crafted their own, individual responses to securities litigation based on national policies and priorities and that opening American courts to such actions would disrupt and impair these carefully constructed local arrangements...." (emphasis added)
It's hard to say where this all will end up since the Court apparently is continuing to pursue Chief Justice Roberts' agenda to decide "business cases," and there are so many interested constituencies. For more background, note that insurance side commentary on NAB was noted in this prior post which, in turn, links to another blog with commentary and links back to the 2d Circuit opinion and briefs. In addition, as SCOTUSblog points out, note that review was granted " even though the U.S. Solicitor General had urged it to bypass the case. Even while arguing that the case was not a proper one to address the issue, Sol. Gen. Elena Kagan filed a brief extensively outlining the government's views on the question, suggesting that the key law against securities fraud should sometimes apply to international dealings. (Justice Sotomayor took no part in the order granting review; it was not immediately apparent why she was recused. She did not vote on this case while on the Second Circuit.)"