Class Action in Consumer Protection (EU Law)

The Council of the EU today reached agreement on a draft directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers.

The draft directive is here.

The directive empowers qualified entities, such as consumer organisations, to seek, in addition to injunctions, also redress measures, including compensation or replacement, on behalf of a group of consumers that has been harmed by a trader in violation of one of the EU legal acts set out in an annex to the directive. These legal acts reflect recent developments in the field of consumer protection and extend to areas such as financial services, travel and tourism, energy, telecommunications and data protection, in addition to general consumer law.

Member states shall, for the purpose of representative actions for redress, be free to choose between an opt-in and an opt-out system. In an opt-in system, consumers will be required to express their wish to be represented by the qualified entity for the purpose of a particular representative action. In an opt-out system, consumers who do not wish to be represented by the qualified entity for the purpose of a particular representative action will be required to make a statement to that effect.

Member states will have 30 months from the entry into force of the directive to transpose it into national law, as well as an additional 12 months to start applying these provisions.

The directive will apply to representative actions brought after the date of application.

On the basis of the agreed text, the Council will start negotiations with the European Parliament with a view to exploring the possibility of an agreement for the swift adoption of the directive at second reading (“early second reading agreement”).

Sourcing Products from the UK (Ireland Brexit)

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Ireland) has (5th Feb) reminded companies in Ireland sourcing products from the UK that they will take additional responsibilities as EU importers after Brexit. Here

In this communication, the Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD said “Before the UK leaves the EU, it is critical that businesses assess all aspects of their potential exposure. After Brexit, companies in Ireland will no longer be able to rely on UK-based Notified Bodies to undertake third party conformity assessments required under relevant EU law. They will instead need to source an EU-based Notified Body legally designated to carry conformity assessments. A list of Notified Bodies is available on the EU ‘NANDO’ website”.

Irish businesses are also advised that

• Products imported from the UK post-Brexit need to be EU compliant.

• Businesses need to understand the vulnerabilities in their supply chains. They need to know the full supply chain for all their products (machinery, chemicals, etc.) and how it is linked to the UK, including via distributors.

• Irish companies sourcing their product from the UK after Brexit may become an EU importer with additional legal responsibilities for compliance of the product with EU law.

• When UK leaves, UK registrations, authorization or notifications under REACH and CLP will not be valid. This means the role of businesses in Ireland may change from being a downstream user of chemicals to an importer.

The communication references the useful EU issued Q&A for Businesses (industrial products) – here.