Legal Document Translations in Light of Royal Dutch Shell Global Class Action and Collective Settlement Agreements

With the highly publicized Royal Dutch Shell class action suit, the field of global class actions is once again being redefined. And with this and similar suits, multilingual foreign language live, print, and written translation becomes an essential issue to successfully litigating and negotiating these actions.

One major issue that the Royal Dutch Shell global class action suit raises is that of filing a collective settlement agreement under the Dutch Act on Collective Settlement of Mass Damages (Wet collectieve afwikkeling massaschade) (the “Dutch Act”).

According to the Dutch Act, Dutch law now allows collective settlement agreements in global class actions. In order to create a successful collective settlement agreement, the agreement must describe the class and the various sub-classes. Further, the document must give information pertaining to the estimated number of class and sub-class members, compensation to be awarded, requirements for compensation eligibility, procedure for establishing the amount of compensation and the method of obtaining payment.

When the class in question is in fact a global class, as is in the Royal Dutch Shell case, the collective settlement agreement must be translated into each members’ language for their approval, and also must be translated into Dutch and filed in the Dutch courts.

Thus, one rule to take away from the Royal Dutch Shell case is that global class actions require the services of multiple foreign language legal translators skilled in multiple foreign languages and capable of producing certified professional translations.

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