Thus, the new law may be seen as a true revolution in the Italian litigation arena. It is particularly favourable to claimants as it provides for (i) a broader scope of application and (ii) incentive mechanisms aimed at encouraging the use of the class action system.
Let’s see the main innovations of the new law (our previous newsflash available here and here).
- The new class action is no longer reserved to consumers and end users, and is open to all kinds of damage claims: from now on, class actions may be brought for the enforcement of “homogeneous rights” by anyone (including legal entities and in B2B relationships) claiming damage redress against the “author of the harmful behaviour”.
- The new class action provides for a double opt-in window. Claimants can now join the class:
- once the action is admitted, right before the proceedings on the merits start, and also
- up to 5 months after the decision on the merits is issued.
- The new law introduces a monetary reward, if the action is successful, for the lead plaintiff's lawyer and for the "common representative" of the class.
The reform entails important criticalities for businesses which need to prepare to potentially face a greater number of class actions with no certainties as to the number of potential class members (and hence, as to the potential exposure) and increased difficulties in reaching early settlements. It is therefore advisable that they adopt internal policies to mitigate the exposure risk and conceive new defensive strategies.
24 November 2020 marks the final approval of the Directive 2020/1828 of the European Parliament and of the Council on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC, regulating the initiation by qualified entities of injunctive and redress collective measures through stand-alone and cross-border collective actions covering infringements by traders of the provisions of 66 European regulations. The Directive requires EU Member States – including Italy – to adapt their procedural collective action and redress mechanism by 25 December 2022, with application as from 25 June 2023. It remains to be seen how the implementation of the Directive and the new Italian class action system will combine.
We’ll soon be providing industry sector specific updates.
Authored by Francesca Rolla, Christian Di Mauro, Filippo Chiaves, and Andrea Atteritano.