The French Government has issued a Decree no. 2014-1081 on September 24, 2014 detailing the rules governing the French class action (action de groupe) system which will enter into force on October 1st 2014.
The French action de groupe system authorizes recognised consumer groups to bring actions before civil courts in order to recover damages for harm suffered by consumers in connection with either the sale of goods, the supply of services, or anti-competitive practices. Environmental and health damages are excluded from the scope of actions de groupe for now.
The Decree specifies that the French civil procedure rules are applicable to the action de groupe. The Tribunal de Grande Instance located in the defendant’s domicile area should have exclusive jurisdiction to handle the complaints. If the defendant is located outside of France or has no known address, the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance should have exclusive jurisdiction.
The Decree also specifies how “the opt-in system” will be handled (consumers must come forward, on a voluntary basis, and prove that they meet the criteria as defined by the court): in order to enable eligible consumers to join the action, the court will order publicity measures in the same judgment where it adjudicates upon the enterprise’s alleged liability.
The Decree provides for the implementation of the simplified procedure applicable where the identity and the number of consumers having suffered damage of the same amounts is already known. Finally, the Decree specifies the relevant information measures to consumers, how to adhere to the action, and how to become a recognised consumer body able to bring these actions.