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Collective redress mechanisms advisable, says EU

The European Commission has set out a series of common, non-binding principles for collective redress mechanisms in the Member States so that citizens and companies can enforce the rights granted to them under EU law where these have been infringed.

The Recommendation aims to ensure a coherent horizontal approach to collective redress in the European Union without harmonising Member States' systems.

According to the Commission, national redress mechanisms should be available in different areas where EU law grants rights to citizens and companies, notably in consumer protection, competition, environment protection and financial services. By recommending that Member States put in place national collective redress mechanisms the Commission wants to improve access to justice, while ensuring appropriate procedural guarantees to avoid abusive litigation.

The Recommendation complements the proposal for a Directive on antitrust damages, which will help the victims of violations of antitrust rules obtain compensation through the legal actions available in Member States. See our earlier blog on this for more details.

While the Recommendation calls on Member States to put in place collective redress mechanisms, the Directive leaves it to Member States whether or not to introduce collective redress actions in the context of private enforcement of competition law.

“Member States have very different legal traditions in collective redress and the Commission wants to respect these. Our initiative aims to bring more coherence when EU law is at stake”, said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “This Recommendation is a balanced approach to improve access to justice for citizens while avoiding a US-style system of class actions and the risk of frivolous claims and abusive litigation.”

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