Feeds

European Commission consults on class action lawsuits

Closing the 'justice gap'

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Consumers across the European Union could be given new powers to join forces to sue a business under plans announced by the European Commission today. Class action lawsuits could be publicly funded under the proposals.

The Commission's Green Paper on Consumer Collective Redress (pdf) proposes new ways of dealing with situations where large numbers of consumers have been harmed by a single trader's practice which is in breach of consumer law.

Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said that many such cases currently fall through a hole in the justice system.

“Consumers who are victims of illegal activities, such as overcharging, misleading advertising or outright scams, have a right to compensation," she said. "Currently, particularly where there are small scattered claims, this right is often theoretical because of the obstacles to exercising it in practice.

"There is a justice gap, a welfare gap and there are black holes in our redress system that is leaving consumers with nowhere to go. The present situation is clearly unsatisfactory. We must find a way to make the basic right to consumer redress a reality for more people," said Kuneva.

The green paper acknowledges the current action in the UK against banks accused of imposing excessive charges on thousands of customers whose accounts became overdrawn. It also cites an EC-led enforcement action against ring-tone sellers: around 60 per cent of websites checked had the obligatory pre-contractual information but hid it or presented it in small print. Ads that claimed to offer 'free' ring-tones resulted in unexpected payments or subscriptions, it says.

The green paper identifies barriers to effective consumer redress in terms of access, effectiveness and affordability and presents various options to close the gaps identified.

The most radical of the options for reform is a judicial collective redress procedure. The Commission says this option "should avoid elements which are said to encourage a litigation culture such as is said to exist in some non-European countries, such as punitive damages, contingency fees and other elements".

It suggests cutting the costs of action by exempting collective actions from court fees or capping legal fees. Consumer bodies could also bring actions and enjoy a share of the compensation to cover their costs, it suggests. A bank could grant a loan to cover the cost of court proceedings. "Another solution could be public funding by the Member States," it suggests.

The green paper excludes collective redress for victims of competition law infringements, which is the subject of a previously-published white paper.

Reforms to restrictions on class actions in England and Wales were proposed in July. Following an investigation of current procedures, the Civil Justice Council reported that more class actions in English courts would benefit consumers, small businesses and employees.

Comments on the green paper can be submitted until 1 March 2009.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
APPLE FAILS to ditch class action suit over ebook PRICE-FIX fiasco
Do not pass go, do cough (up to) $840m in damages
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.