Class action has recently made its debut in French law after it was introduced by Law number 2014-344 on 14 March 2014.
First implemented in consumer law, various laws have subsequently broadened the scope of class action, which is now open in the field of health law, discrimination, discrimination at work, environmental damage and protection of personal data (law of modernisation of justice of the 21st century No 2016-1547, called "Loi J21").
Some implementing decrees had been taken for class actions in consumer law (such as decree No 2014-1081 on 24 September 2014) and in health related matters (decree No 2016-1249 on 29 September 2016 - see our article published on 30 September 2016). However, the implementing decrees of the J21 law concerning the class actions in terms of discrimination, environmental damage and protection of personal data had still not been published.
This has now been addressed by the publication in the Journal Officiel of the Decree of 06 May 2017 which appropriately creates a common procedural framework for class actions and thus ends the coexistence of disparate regimes.
If class actions in the field of consumer protection still have a surprisingly specific regime, class actions in the fields of health, discrimination, discrimination at work, environmental damage and protection of personal data are thus brought together in a common procedural framework.
Regardless of the area concerned, a duly authorised organisation will have to be mandated in order to bring a claim to institute a liability action which will be divided into two distinct phases. Firstly, the judge will rule whether any liability is found and will determine the type of compensation, such as reparations on an individual basis, or collective liquidation procedure of the damages (article 826-15 of the French civil procedure code). It is only during the second phase that the judge will assess damages and decide on the compensation.
The Code of Administrative Justice is also modified on the procedure of class action and action for the recognition of the right before the administrative court, as well as on the discriminations at work. The decree amends the Environmental Code to include provisions concerning the procedure and conditions for the approval of associations that intend to carry out an environmental class action.
The contributions of law J21, with this decree dated 06 May 2017, can then appear relatively limited because a lot of provisions of this measure only aim at creating a general procedural framework inspired by existing provisions. However, the most interesting aspect of the decree is that it establishes a common procedural framework which simplifies a minima those kinds of procedures that have been described as long and complex by a lot of commentators.
Thus, with regard to class lawsuits in health-related matters, Article 7 of the Decree amends the Public Health Code by transposing a dozen articles into the general framework now provided for in the Code of Civil Procedure (Article 1 of the Decree), according to the following concordance table. However, the specific features of this class action remain within the CSP under Articles L.1143-1, R.1143-1 and following of the CSP.
||Repeal article in the
Public Health Code
|New article in the Civil Procedure Code
|Obligation to specify the individual cases in support of the claim, under penalty of nullity
||Article R. 1143-2 of the CSP
||Article 826-4 of the CPC
|Obligation for the judgment which recognises the defendant’s liability to specify the time frame to carry out the publicity measures
||Article R.1143-4 of the CSP
||Article 826-14 of the CPC
|The mandatory information that has to appear in the judgment that recognises the defendant’s liability
||Article R.1143-5 of the CSP
||Article 826-16 of the CPC
|Conditions for claiming compensation
||Article R.1143-7 of the CSP
||Article 826-17 of the CPC
|Obligation to inform the user who acts directly against the defendant
||Article R.1143-8 of the CSP
||Article 826-18 of the CPC
|Failure to join the class action in the time frame stated
||Article R.1143-9 of the CSP
||Article 826-19 of the CPC
|Mandate for the purpose of compensation
||Article R.1143-10 of the CSP
||Article 826-20 of the CPC
|Account at the “Caisse des dépôts et consignations” in the eventlegal representation is lacking
||Article R.1143-11 of the CSP
||Article 826-23 of the CPC
|Enforcement of the judgment
||Article R.1143-12 of the CSP
||Article 826-21 of the CPC
|Obligation to specify the identity of the people involved in the class action under penalty of nullity
||Article R.1143-13 of the CSP
||Article 826-22 of the CPC
|Transfer of the claimant’s rights
||Article R.1143-14 of the CSP
||Article 826-24 of the CPC
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