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Consumers can now take collective legal action
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01 May 2024 / legislation Print

Consumers can now take collective legal action

New legislation will allow groups of consumers in Ireland to take legal action in cases where they believe that their rights have been infringed.

This comes after the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment signed regulations that fully transpose the EU’s Representative Actions Directive into Irish law.

The directive allows groups of consumers to protect their collective interests for an infringement of their consumer rights, both in Ireland and in the EU, through a representative action.

‘Qualified entity’

The legislation allows a designated ‘qualified entity’ (QE) to take a case to the High Court on behalf of consumers.

“Up until now, Ireland had no mechanism for collective redress. This new legislation will greatly strengthen the consumer’s position by allowing them to act together with representation from a qualified entity,” said Minister Peter Burke.

He added, however, that such collective redress would be different from the US class-actions system, as only designated not-for-profit, consumer-advocacy entities would be able to take a case on behalf of consumers.

“This will contribute to preventing opportunistic litigation,” the minister said.

Not-for-profit organisations that have been involved in the consumer-protection sector can now apply to the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for designation as QEs. Their designation will allow them to use the procedural mechanism for representative actions.

QEs designated in other EU member states can also apply to the High Court to launch a representative action in Ireland against a trader established in the State.

Fees can be charged

Under the act, representative actions may be brought on behalf of groups of consumers who may seek:

  • Injunctive measures, which will stop a trader’s unlawful practices,
  • Redress measures, such as refund, replacement, repair, or
  • Both injunctive and redress measures.

The act applies to both domestic and cross-border infringements.

The forms that must be used in conjunction with the act are set out in the Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers Act 2023 (Prescribed Forms) Regulations 2024.

Qualified entities can charge consumers a fee for joining a representative action, but the maximum fee allowed is €25 per consumer per representative action.

Gazette Desk
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