On April 3rd, 2019 the Italian Senate definitively approved the Draft Law no. 844, concerning “Provisions on the class action”.
The legislative provision is going to be published in the “Gazzetta Ufficiale” (the official publication containing the text of new laws) and will enter into force one year after its publication.
This will allow the Ministry of Justice to implement the necessary technical measures in the IT systems in order to manage the new telematic proceedings.
The class action was introduced in our legal system with the Law no. 244 of December 24th, 2007 (the so called 2008 Finance Law).
The new regulation, consisting in 7 articles that are going to reform the discipline currently contained in the Italian Consumer Code, in accordance with art. no. 140 bis, will be “relocated” in the Italian Civil Procedure Code.
Specifically, there will be the introduction of a new Title, the VIII-bis “Of collective proceedings”, which will consist of 15 new articles.
The result of this repositioning is that the class action will no longer be linked to the consumer, but the action will be available to everyone who claims a compensation related to a damage of “homogeneous individual rights”.
The standing to sue will be recognized upon each member of the class and upon the non-profit organizations or associations whose statutory objectives include the protection of the homogeneous individual rights, that are registered in a list held by the Italian Ministry of Justice.
The class action can be brought against companies and public services or public utility providers, in relation to acts and behaviours carried out during their respective activities.
Therefore, the indication of the harmful cases on which the current class action - provided by the art. 140-bis of the Italian Consumer Code - is based, is removed and there is a change in favour of a broader reference to acts and behaviours carried out during the performance of business activities.
One of the major innovations concerns the faculty to join the action, that will be allowed, within due deadlines, not only in the phase after the court order, but also in the one after the sentence. The participation to the class action shall be proposed submitting an on line request using a specific area on the telematic service portal. A special department dedicated to business matters is demanded to decide on class actions.
The class action is broadly divided into 3 phases:
1) admissibility of the action;
2) decision on the merit;
3) liquidation of the sums by way of compensation for damage to members of the class action.
In addition, the Draft Law also regulates the collective injunction action, in according to which anyone who has an interest in inhibiting acts and behaviors carried out against of a plurality of individuals or entities, may request a termination or a recurrence prohibition order related to the active or to the omissive conduct.