The year in review
As mentioned before, class actions are not very common in Portugal. According to statistical reports regarding the exercise of civil class actions before the first instance courts, from 2007 to 2017, only 200 cases were finalised. The average number of cases heard before the first instance courts in Portugal is 18 per year.
Nonetheless, the number of class actions filed by retail investors, or associations on behalf of retail investors, for the protection of the investors' homogeneous individual or collective interests in financial instruments, and class actions filed by the Association for the Defence of Consumers (DECO) with the purpose of ensuring consumer safety and protection, has increased significantly.
In March 2016, 100 investors, from the Association of Aggrieved Investors of Banif (Alboa), filed a class action before the administrative courts to annul the resolution measure taken against Banif.
In September 2016, more than a thousand investors filed a class action before the Lisbon Administrative Court against the Bank of Portugal, its governor and the Portuguese state. They claimed compensation for damages caused by serious shortcomings in the prudential and market conduct supervision with regard to the defendants' involvement in the Banco Espírito Santo case.
Also, in April 2017, Alboa filed a new claim before the Lisbon Administrative Court against the Bank of Portugal to annul a new resolution that clarified and amended the resolution measure taken against Banif. This claim was also filed against the public prosecutor, in representation of the Portuguese state, the Resolution Fund, the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission, the European Commission (EC), Banif and Banco Santander Totta, among others.
In September 2017, the Alfama Heritage and Residents Association filed for a protective measure to prevent the construction of the Jewish Museum in Largo de São Miguel, arguing that the area designated for the building should be used for housing purposes.
In November 2017, it was reported that Association of Investors and Technical Analysts and the association that represents the aggrieved investors of PT/Oi (Alope) intended to file a class action against Haitong (formerly known as Banco Espírito Santo de Investimento). The claim should take into account the sale of structured finance products of the former Portugal Telecom.
Additionally, in November 2017 the Legionnaire's disease victim support association stated its intent to file a class action for damages against the Portuguese state, on the grounds of the lack of legislation in this regard and a breach of the constitutional right to life.
In January 2018, the president of the Municipality of Sintra announced that a popular action was being drafted against the Portuguese Postal Service owing to the unilateral decision to close one of the post offices in the area.
In March 2018, a popular action was filed by DECO for the reimbursement of €60 million, allegedly unlawfully charged by the telecommunications operators Altice/MEO, NOS and NOWO to its clients in late 2016 and August 2017, through unilateral amendments to prices without prior written notice.
In April 2018, the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association filed a popular action before the Loulé Administrative and Tax Court to stop oil prospection and exploitation in Aljezur, Algarve. The proceedings were brought against the Portuguese state, the Ministries of Economy, of the Sea and of the Environment, the Directorate-General for Marine Natural Resources, Security and Services, the Fuel Market National Institution, the Portuguese Energy Regulatory Body, the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology, the Portuguese Environment Agency, GALP and ENI.
In November 2018, DECO filed a class action against Facebook, regarding the misuse of users' personal data without their prior consent and the breach of their privacy, through apps operating in the social network. DECO is claiming a minimum amount of compensation of €200 for each Facebook user, for each year of registration on Facebook.