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Asserting personal jurisdiction over non-resident class members: comparative insights for the United Kingdom
Journal of Private International Law  (IF),  Pub Date : 2019-09-02, DOI: 10.1080/17441048.2019.1691311
Rachael Mulheron

The opt-out class action involves a unique participant, viz, the absent class member whose claim is prosecuted by a representative claimant, who does not opt-out of the action nor do anything else in relation to it, and yet who is bound by its outcome. In a cross-border class action, the means by which a domestic court may validly assert personal jurisdiction over absent class members who are resident outside of that court’s jurisdiction remains perhaps the single biggest conundrum in modern class actions jurisprudence. The United Kingdom (UK) legislature requires that non-resident class members compulsorily opt-in to the UK’s competition law class action, in order to demonstrably signify their consent to the jurisdiction of the UK court. However, that legislative enactment is unusual, and becoming even rarer, in modern class actions statutes. The comparative analysis undertaken in this article demonstrates that where that type of statutory provision is not enacted, then the judicially-developed “anchors” by which to assert personal jurisdiction over non-resident class members are multifarious, diverse, and conflicting, across the leading class actions jurisdictions. This landscape yields important lessons for UK law-makers, and strongly suggests that the UK legislature’s approach towards non-resident class members represents “best practice”, in what is a complex conundrum of class actions law.