A decree dated 26 September 2016 implements the law on the ‘modernization of the health system’, adopted on 17 December 2015, which extends the possibility of bringing class actions to victims of damage caused by health and cosmetic products.
Accredited consumer associations can bring class actions against manufacturers, suppliers and health sector professionals, as well as against their respective insurers, on behalf of individuals who were physically harmed by a health or a cosmetic product.
It is expected that about 500 consumer associations in France will meet the criteria to bring actions in the health sector, whereas only 15 associations meet the criteria to bring class actions in relation to the protection of consumer rights.
Class actions in the health sector may therefore constitute a new trend and may bring significant consequences for companies targeted by such proceedings and their insurers. In fact, it has already been announced that an association which represents a group of victims of an anti-epileptic drug (Dépakine), alleged to cause congenital malformations and neurological problems, will introduce a class action in the coming weeks.