As Christmas is nearing, the topic of class actions and joint proceedings has become a matter of debate both on the national and the European level.
You may remember from the May issue of our journal that the Czech lawmaker has been busy preparing a comprehensive set of rules for the collective protection of rights in the form of a special kind of civil proceeding. These rules are to be gathered in the special law, which will presumably bear the title “Act on Collective Proceedings” (an earlier draft was called Act on Class Actions).
The first draft of the Class Actions Act put together by the Czech justice ministry in the form of a consultation document sought to institutionalize a procedural means which would allow for the effective litigation of a larger number of claims with the same (or similar) basis in fact and in law. That consultation paper was approved by the government in April 2018.
However, this first attempt by the ministry (or, if you will, the government) ultimately failed, as it met with a wave of criticism both by the professional community and the general public.
On 5 December 2019, the justice ministry unveiled its reworked language for a law on class actions, and on 12 December 2019, the legislative council of the government convened to discuss this new draft.
We are still in the early stages of the legislative process, but it is already clear that fundamental changes await us in the realm of civil proceedings. Even so, it remains doubtful whether and to what degree the institution of collective proceedings will get a foothold in practice, and how it will be used. If we are to believe the ministry, the option of collective proceedings ought to make the life of justices much easier, speed up the duration of court procedures, and save money for those involved in litigation.
The issue of class actions and collective proceedings is a hot topic not only in the Czech Republic: At the end of November, the representatives of the individual EU member states agreed on the basic conditions for introducing consumer class actions when they supported the proposal for an EU Directive for the protection of the collective interests of consumers.
At this moment in time, it is too early to say much about the final shape which either the Czech Class Actions Act or the European Directive will take. We will provide you with more detailed information about collective proceedings and selected institutions in future issues of our journal.
Proposal for a Act on Class Action Proceedings, posted on the ODok portal: https://apps.odok.cz/veklep-detail?pid=KORNBA9EXSST