Lithuania: A new way to defend group rights.
A real possibility to bring class action suits will appear on 1 January 2015 when new amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) enter into force. So far the law has not provided a mechanism to handle these actions. The possibility to bring class action suits is expected to lead to more effective protection of the rights and legal interests of large groups of people. In addition, this institution will ensure consistency of case-law in solving equivalent or similar disputes.
Class action suits may be brought by groups of 20 or more natural persons or legal entities that share certain unifying criteria, i.e. all members of the group must seek to defend their equivalent or similar material rights or legal interests in an equivalent manner, and their claims must have an equivalent or similar factual basis. The group will have a representative to act as claimant and take all appropriate action in the proceedings on behalf of the group. In addition, a professional attorney will be required to represent the claimants in these class-action suits.
The CCP amendments also instate a mandatory preliminary stage before bringing the dispute to court. The group representative will be required to send a written complaint via a registered letter informing the defendant of the intention to bring a class-action suit. The complaint must describe the group, indicate its claims and announce that if these claims are not met within 30 days or more, the group may bring their claim to court. If the defendant does not meet the claims or does not reply to the complaint at all, the group can begin a class-action suit.
After analysing the claim brought before it, the court will adopt a decision that would apply equally to all members of the group. If a class-action suit contains individual material claims by group members, the court will analyse matters common to all members of the group, and will adopt a decision only insofar as it relates to these common and unifying matters. The decision will be considered to be provisional. In this case the court will settle individual claims by group members later on the basis of the provisional decision, and will adopt individual decisions for each member of the group who brought individual claims.
Source: TAR, 2014, Nr. 2014-03570.