The Slovenian National Assembly adopted the Class Action Law, which will implement an important institute to the Slovenian legal system, i.e. mechanism of class action. This mechanism is already applied in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Sweden, but is yet to be implemented in numerous EU member states. The new mechanism of class action will provide for the injured parties, both natural and legal persons, to file a compensation claim in case of mass harm situations. Besides a collective action for compensation, the law also provides for the possibility to file a collective action for the cessation of illegal behaviour against the infringers, as well as the procedure of collective settlement in case of mass harm events. The law will come into force on the 21st of October, 2017, while it will apply with effect from the 21st of April, 2018.
The law regulates procedures for collective redress in cases when the infringer breached consumers' or workers' rights, as well as rights arising from the prohibition on the restriction of competition, or rights from the financial instruments market, and in cases of damage caused by environmental accidents. The law aims to offer solutions for numerous cases of harm mass situations, in which individuals, injured by the same infringer's act, did not seek judicial protection mainly due to the high cost and low amount of individual claims for compensation. Apart from providing for easier access to the court protection, the law also aims to stop and prohibit infringers from carrying out illegal behaviour by providing the possibility to file a collective action for the cessation of illegal behaviour against the infringers.
Court procedure under the new law can be commenced by the senior state attorney or by the private-law legal person, the activity of which is non-profit and is related to the breached right, wherein the court will assess in each case individually whether the above mentioned person is representative to start the procedure or not. An exception regarding the commencement of the court procedure applies to the consumer disputes, in which an the action for cessation of illegal behaviour of the breaching companies can be submitted only by the Slovenian Consumers' Association, chamber, or association of companies of which the breaching company is a member. In case the company with its seat located in Slovenia breaches the rights of consumers, coming from any other European Union member state, an action against the Slovenian company can be also submitted by the organisation, established for the protection of consumers' rights under that EU member state.
Even though the injured party will not be party to the court procedures, governed by the new law, the injured party will nevertheless have the possibility to submit comments during the procedure. After the court procedure is finished, the infringer will pay the notional amount, whether directly to the injured parties, or to the notary public, who will act as a fiduciary of the compensation in certain cases. The law also introduces a public registry of class actions, where everyone will be able to access certain documents within the individual procedures free of charge.
The aim of the new law is therefore to provide for the easier enforcement of the right to compensation to injured individuals and legal persons, while the breaching companies can also be prohibited from carrying out illegal behaviour in the future. On the other hand, the law also provides for the safeguards against abusing such court procedures by regulating the procedure, based on which the court will first - after preliminary assessing the admissibility and completeness of the action - assess whether the requirements for approval of the action exist, while only after that it will proceed with deciding on the claim. It is also important to note that it will be possible to commence a procedure under the new law in relation to the mass harm situations which occur before the new law comes into force, if the claim for compensation is not statute-barred.