US$1.3 Billion Fortis Settlement Ushers in New Era in Globalization of Securities Laws

March 18, 2016

A closely-watched set of claims stemming back to the 2008 global financial crisis has settled for a massive €1.204 billion (US$1.3 billion), making it one of the highest settlements ever and ushering in a new era in the globalization of securities laws. Several shareholder foundations, led by American plaintiff’s firms, have reached an agreement using Dutch collective settlement procedures to settle shareholder claims against Belgium-based Ageas (formerly Fortis). Securities practitioners have been watching the Fortis litigation develop since 2008 after the Belgium-based provider of banking and insurance services participated in the ABN AMRO acquisition and received a government “bailout” by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to prevent its collapse.

This significant settlement exemplifies a sea change that began with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision of Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., 130 S. Ct. 2869 (2010). With American firms at the forefront of bringing such massive actions on behalf of a worldwide class, this settlement demonstrates that the Netherlands will become an increasingly popular venue for pursuing international securities class action claims. Nonetheless, questions remain about the settlement’s enforceability around the world and whether companies will be able to receive assurance that such settlements will truly result in global peace.

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