Ecommerce Europe published today a new position paper on the Directive on collective representative actions. The Proposal is part of the New Deal for Consumers Package and aims to protect the collective interests of consumers and repeal the Injunctions Directive 2009/22/EC.
The European Commission’s objective is to improve tools for stopping illegal practices and facilitating redress for consumers where many of them are victims of the same infringement of their rights, in a mass harm situation.
Generally speaking, Ecommerce Europe calls on the EU institutions to shape a fair, balanced and efficient civil justice system for dealing with mass consumer complaints in Europe. In its view, playing by the same rules is a common interest shared by consumers and businesses. In this position paper, Ecommerce Europe lays out 10 important issues regarding this Proposal and argues that the Directive would have a fundamental impact on basic principles such as subsidiarity, legal certainty, procedural effectiveness and efficiency for consumers, businesses and the legal procedural rules of Member States.
Ecommerce Europe believes that the Proposal focuses too much on the collective litigation model and creates conflicts with existing and functioning national collective redress systems. Furthermore, it does not contribute to the harmonization of collective consumer redress and it lacks essential and comprehensive safeguards to avoid abuse or malfunctioning, thus increasing legal uncertainty. In addition, it provides for counterproductive and undesired rules on settlements and it has no equality of arms for parties involved on costs of informing the public.
Moreover, the final redress order is not fit for mass compensation for loss or damages and there is no proven need for fines in a collective redress system. Finally, the Proposal does not give a clear answer on whether the individual consumer concerned is automatically bound by the final court redress order or not, and on the question whether he can exclude himself from the effects of the collective court order by means of a possibility to opt-in or to opt-out.
In the view of Ecommerce Europe, the complexity of the issues raised in this Directive, as well as the need to build a coherent and harmonized civil redress system architecture in Europe, are not efficiently addressed by this Proposal. Fundamental questions on several basic issues of collective court action are not answered or taken into account, which makes Ecommerce Europe advise the European legislators to fundamentally rethink and redesign the whole proposal.