On 27 June 2019, the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted in the third reading amendments* to the Civil Procedure Code which introduce the concept of class actions before courts of general jurisdiction. These amendments will come into force on 1 October 2019.
The introduction of the concept of class action in civil procedure law is one of several significant recent reforms in Russian procedural legislation. This will allow individuals (with other individuals or with organisations) to collectively protect their rights in court, which has long been happening in western countries.
Under the new procedure, individuals with a similar claim will be able to unite together or with organisations into a group of at least 20, select a representative from the group and file a lawsuit against a respondent.
Individuals will be able to defend their collective interests through class action in almost any category of civil law. In addition to consumer protection disputes, the courts will be able to consider group claims for disputes in the following areas:
- compensation for harm;
- the housing and utilities sector;
- violations of anti-monopoly laws (for example, on the retail market).
According to the law, information about the filing of a class action lawsuit must be published in the media so that other people can join the claim, by opting in, if they believe their rights and legitimate interests were also violated.
Until now, the opportunity to defend interests “collectively” was only possible in commercial disputes before commercial courts, and the number of such cases was extremely small.
The modernisation of the concept of class actions and the introduction of a new procedure in the Russian Code of Civil Procedure will increase the number of these lawsuits, and also allow groups of people to defend their interests faster and more easily in court.
In addition, group members will be able to save on court costs, as opposed to the expense of filing claims individually.
Also, it is important to point out that group members have more power to manage class proceedings than proceedings under general rules, because they can always change their representative (who must be a member of the group) if the representative decides to leave the group or if a change is advisable for any other reason.