Introduction of Class Actions in France: A Growing Threat to Professionals?

A long-awaited law -

The question of the introduction of class actions has caused much turmoil in France’s legislative and political sphere over the past decades. After many years of debate, the French Senate and National Assembly have finally reached an agreement on the introduction of class actions in France. After gaining approval of the constitutionality of the proposed class action mechanism by the Constitutional Court, the new legislation, the “Loi Hamon” n° 2014-344 of the 17th of March 2014 has finally been enacted, with the goal of reinforcing consumer protection in France and providing consumers fair compensation for their economic losses. Although the new law is now officially enacted, the provisions relating to the class action mechanism in France have yet to come into effect via implementing decrees which are expected in the following months.

The new law introduces a different system from the well entrenched US example. The new French law elects the “opt-in” model and limits the role of class representation to nationally representative and accredited consumer associations. In addition, the scope of class actions has been limited to consumer and competition law violations, with specific conditions applicable to competition law claims.

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