What, if any, are the collective redress (e.g. class action) mechanisms?
Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Besides the group action ("Verbandsklage"), the Swiss litigation system does not know collective redress such as class actions. The group action means that associations and other organizations of national or regional importance that are authorized by their articles of association to protect the interests of a certain group of individuals may bring an action in their own name for a violation of the personality of the members of such group, and may request the court to prohibit an imminent violation, to put an end to an ongoing violation, or to establish the unlawful character of a violation if the latter continues to have a disturbing effect. Given the insignificance of group actions in litigation reality the Swiss legislative is considering to expand the possible remedies also to financial remedies, as is the legislative considering to introduce group settlement procedures as a new tool for a sort of collective action.
Collective redress mechanisms under Chilean law are given by some class actions or collective proceedings in the context of litigation related to certain specific subjects such as consumer protection (Law 19.496 on Consumer Protection), unfair competition (Law 20.169 on Unfair Competition) and quality of construction (Decree in Force of Law 458 DFL on Construction and Urbanism).
Class action is permitted and governed by the Swedish Group Proceedings Act (Sw. lag om grupprättegång). For environmental law, the Swedish Environmental Act (Sw. miljöbalken) contains specific provisions regarding class actions. Anyone who wishes to participate as a member of a class action must give written notice to the court. As a general rule, the group must be represented by a lawyer being a member of the Swedish Bar Association.
Portuguese law does not provide for collective redress mechanisms. The most similar legal instrument would be the “Ação Popular”, but this is not commonly used.
This kind of proceeding is intended for the protection of the rights of each and every member of a certain group, despite their own will and related to assets that can be used by all of them in a non-exclusive way.
There are no class actions in the UAE.
Until recently, class actions were not recognized in Saudi Arabia. A change was recently introduced by the Committee for the Resolution of Securities Disputes, which now permits class actions before it.
A class action can be brought if four conditions are met: Several legal persons have claims or obligations whose factual or legal basis is identical or substantially similar, the claims can be heard by a court with the same composition and in the main pursuant to the same procedural rules, class procedure is the most appropriate way of dealing with the claims, and it is possible to nominate a class representative. A class action can be brought before a district court through a writ of summons submitted by any person who fulfils the conditions for class membership or an organization or association charged with promoting specific interests in line with the action.
The FRCP permit class actions in federal courts only if (1) the size of the class is so numerous that it would be impractical to bring them all before the court as individual parties, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. There are additional requirements regarding the permissible types of class actions. Most states have adopted similar rules, but the requirements can vary by jurisdiction.
Austrian law provides for a kind of group litigation that differs from typical class action concepts like in the United States. The “Austrian type of class action” allows multiple claimants to assign their claim to a third party, usually a specific association such as the Consumer Information Association or the Chamber of Employees, with the intention that said organisation raises these claims in one lawsuit on behalf of the assignors against a single defendant.
That being said, Austrian law prohibits other forms of class actions, because only a party that has a substantive claim may act as a plaintiff in a proceeding. Against the background of EU recommendations and various consumer-related scandals, a working group is currently working on a reform of Austria’s current collective redress system.
Generally, a class action system does not exist in Japan.
However, the “Act on Special Measures Concerning Civil Court Proceedings for the Collective Redress for Property Damage Incurred by Consumers”, which is often referred to as Japan’s version of class action, was passed in 2013 and came into force in 2016.
Under that law, a “Specified Qualified Consumer Organization” files a lawsuit asking for the confirmation of common obligations, which are obligations of companies to pay money to consumers based on factual and legal causes common to a group of consumers. If the court confirms the common obligations, then consumers can essentially “join” the procedure by delegating authority to the Specified Qualified Consumer Organization to file proof of their claims in court. That law only applies to certain types of contracts between a consumer and a company, and the types of damages that can be recovered are limited.