On 18 July 2019, the President of Russia signed a law whereby lawsuits can be filed to protect groups of people in civil disputes (so-called "class action suits").
The main aim of the new law is to simplify and strengthen the protection of the rights of citizens in the most common disputes in such areas as:
- consumer protection (actions against a seller regarding the sale of defective or dangerous goods, actions against a tour operator)
- labour relations (actions against an employer regarding unfair dismissal, actions for recovery of wages)
- damages (for example, actions regarding transport (for example, aircraft, train) accidents, pollution of the environment)
- real estate, housing utility services and shared participation construction (actions of participants in shared construction against a developer, tenants' actions against a property management company)
The new rules also provide for a number of additional guarantees to protect the rights of citizens in whose interest a lawsuit is brought.
A lawsuit will be considered under the new rules if all of the following are present:
- the same respondent
- common or similar claims of persons comprising the group
- similar factual circumstances
- the same method of protecting violated rights
Information on a class action lawsuit will be published in the mass media, and any interested person whose claims meet the abovementioned criteria will be able to join the initiated lawsuit.
The institution of civil class action is quite well developed in the US and is successfully applied to protect large groups of citizens in various types of disputes, including those against major manufacturers and corporations. This significantly reduces the cost and duration of legal proceedings, and reduces the number of cases of the same type.
It was also possible to bring such suits in Russian arbitrazh courts, but only for specific categories of claims such as corporate disputes, disputes relating to operations of securities intermediaries, etc. However now the list of categories of disputes has been significantly expanded, and they can be also considered by courts of general jurisdiction.