Graduate School of Law/Faculty of Law, Kobe University




Remedies of Collective Interests: Interpretive Approaches and Legislative Proposals

Principal Investigator: Professor KUBOTA Atsumi

The protection of legal rights and legally recognized interests is one of the most important subjects of law, particularly in private law.

In general, the point of concern is the interests of a specified individual or group (legal entity). Most traditional studies assume that there is a party to whom legal rights and interests will be afforded, and that the party will be protected in the event that such interests are violated.

However, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish interests. The interests of individuals and specific groups can overlap, and it is can be hard to separate individual from collective interests. This includes environmental interests of homeowners or users of public resources; the values and interests possessed by groups in terms of cultural or historical heritage; and symbolic or honorary values possessed by a group or community. There are also those that can be conceptualized as individual interests but for which adequate protection cannot be provided as such—for instance, damages caused to a large number of consumers.

This research project will clarify, among other things, the interpretative possibilities, problems and limitations of current law regarding the protection of such group or collective interests. At the same time, it will consider—on the basis of the analysis of the problematic circumstances in each target area, reviews of judicial precedents and existing studies, and extensive research in comparative law—the legislatively possible directions that can be taken to enable the ideal protection of the aforementioned interests.

Specifically, the research activities will be divided up into those parts that are related to one of four interests (consumer interests, environmental interests, cultural and historical benefits and collective honorary value) as well as “protection and remediation,” which bridges all parts. The parts will consist of researchers from multiple fields, who will examine individual issues as well as carry out joint research that straddles more than one part.