Thanks to the internal market, EU consumers have so far a wide range of quality products, competitive prices and high safety standards. Today`s agreement paves the way for consumers to be granted a right across the EU to jointly seek effective judicial protection when traders harm consumers by violating EU law. The directive also introduces a ”losing country” principle, which aims to lower the bar for consumers who wish to lodge an appeal and to protect against abusive disputes. Consumers: They seem to be the big winners. Consumers will not only be able to take joint legal action, but also in the event of infringements in the past, once the Class Action Directive has been applied in the Member States. This means that consumer rights violations in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, such as. B unfair cancellations, could be covered. Industry: Lobbying groups have long and harshly fought against a European class action mechanism, arguing that this would lead to an avalanche of cases. The industry also argued that the EU should avoid following the US model.class complaint it said benefited predatory law firms and not consumers.
It is interesting to note that the press release does not refer to the presumption of liability so far considered a `presumption of liability`, which is considered a liability in all Member States if it has already been established by a member state`s jurisdiction. On the basis of the January 2020 trilogue proposal, this was clearly a point of contention between the parties4. Of course, Europe does not want to adopt a class action system that creates great differences between Member States. The new text also proposes two approaches: one for a cross-border claim (where the procedure is aligned in each Member State) and the other for national claims (where the local government can decide which criteria should be set for group action). This could be a good solution to the need for more and fewer controls and decision-making at the local level. In essence: 6. Negotiators agreed that the Commission should consider setting up a European Ombudsman for class actions for cross-border representative actions at EU level. In accordance with yesterday`s political agreement, each Member State must appoint at least one qualified body (an organisation or a public body) with the authority and financial authority to take omission and reparation measures on behalf of consumer groups and to ensure consumer access to justice. Companies that are qualified to act in cross-border cases must meet a number of harmonized criteria, i.e. a non-profit, independent third-party organization whose economic interests are contrary to the interests of consumers.