On 27 November 2008, the European Commission (EC) published its Green Paper on Consumer Collective Redress. The paper proposes new methods to help large numbers of consumers who have been harmed by a trader's breach of consumer law.
The EC clearly feels that consumers in such a situation are not adequately protected under current legislation. As a result, the paper makes several suggestions including a collective redress procedure although it is quick to point out that it would not favour the introduction of punitive damages or contingency fees. It also suggests several ideas for cutting the cost of such litigation such as exempting collective actions from court fees, capping legal fees, allowing bank loans to fund such litigation and even possibly public funding of such cases.
Allowing collective actions in Europe as a whole would revolutionise consumers' ability to protect themselves against breaches of consumer law. The EC is asking for comments on the paper to be submitted to them by 1 March 2009. If you would like to comment and/or read more about this issue, please click here.