On Monday, 23 September 2013, the French Minister for Social Affairs and Health, Mrs Marisol Touraine, presented the "national health strategy", which defines the scope of the public action in this sector for the coming years. The Minister mentioned that the principles and objectives of this strategy would be included in a bill in 2014.
On Monday, the French Minister for Social Affairs and Health notably declared that it was time to move on to the "new age of health democracy". She reckons that "the Ministry for Health has been the Ministry for hospitals, and then the one for health care professions: it must also be the Ministry for patients".
In this context, the Minister went back over the implementation of class actions in the health sector, announced a few weeks ago (click here for more details). She mentioned in this respect that "the Health Law will constitute a new, decisive, step forwards, for the rights of patients. After the recognition of individual rights, the effectiveness of which must be ensured, we will improve collective rights by making way for class actions in the health sector. The prospect of class actions "à la française" will constitute a decisive evolution".
This announcement is actually concomitant with the examination by the French Parliament of the Consumer Bill. This Bill has been adopted by the French Senate on 13 September 2013 and is currently being examined for the second time by the French National Assembly. The Bill notably provides for the introduction of class actions in the French Consumer Code (except in the health and environmental sectors).
For the moment, the Bill provides for the submission of an assessment report by the Government to the Parliament within thirty months following the enactment of the Law. This report should also consider the possible evolutions of the scope of application of class actions, "by examining its extension to the health and environmental sectors".
It is surprising, and even premature, to hear that the Minister for Social Affairs and Health is considering creating class actions in the health sector, without taking into account the eminently individual nature of such cases (regarding the determination of the causal link and of the loss, in particular) and, at least, the feedback on class actions which are going to be established in other sectors.