24 October 2013

Private Action

Given concerns about regulatory incapacity that are evident in posts in this blog regarding health and privacy law it is interesting to see the 88 page 'Private Enforcement' by Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang and Herbert M. Kritzer in (2013) 17 Lewis & Clark Law Review 637.

The authors comment that
Our aim in this Article is to advance understanding of private enforcement of statutory and administrative law in the United States and to raise questions that will be useful to those who are concerned with regulatory design in other countries. To that end, we briefly discuss aspects of American culture, history, and political institutions that reasonably can be thought to have contributed to the growth and subsequent development of private enforcement. We also set forth key elements of the general legal landscape in which decisions about private enforcement are made, aspects of which should be central to the choice of an enforcement strategy and, in the case of private enforcement, are critical to the efficacy of a private enforcement regime. We then turn to the business of institutional architecture, describing the considerations — both in favor of and against private enforcement — that should affect the choice of an enforcement strategy. We lay out choices to be made about elements of a private enforcement regime, attending to the general legal landscape in which the regime would operate, particularly court access, as well as how incentives for enforcement interact with the market for legal services, which has important implications for private enforcement activity. We situate these legislative choices about private enforcement in the context of institutions that shape them. Finally, we seek to demonstrate how general considerations play out by examining private enforcement in two policy areas: legislation proscribing discrimination in employment, and laws protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices.