The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has launched a public consultation on the implementation of the EU Representative Actions Directive ("the Directive").
The Directive allows for collective redress actions (often referred to as "class actions") to protect the collective interests of consumers under EU Consumer Protection legislation and to stop illegal practices.
There is currently no provision in Irish court rules for class actions. Instead, a range of procedural options are available to allow claims involving multiple parties to be litigated as private actions. These include (i) joining additional parties to an individual claim, (ii) representative actions, (iii) consolidation and co-ordinated hearings of separate actions and (iv) test cases.
The EU Directive will require Ireland to go further and this will require both legislative change and an updating of our Court Rules.
Under the Directive, qualified entities will be able to seek both injunctive relief and collective redress measures from traders who are proven to have caused mass harm to consumers through their violation of relevant consumer protection laws.
In the Review of the Administration of Civil Justice Report published in December 2020, the Review Group noted the limitations of the existing multi-party litigation procedures currently available in Ireland and noted that Ireland was in a minority of EU member states in not having compensatory collective redress procedures in place. The Report recommends the introduction of a new and more comprehensive multi-party action procedure to accommodate mass claims and felt that there was an objective need to legislate for comprehensive multi-party actions. The Review Group also recommends a change to our current Court Rules.
The Directive was agreed and published in December 2020. It is due to be transposed into Irish law by December 2022 and will become operative in 2023.
The deadline for submissions to the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment is 07 May 2021.
Watch this space.
Wrriten by Killian O'Reilly.
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