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Landmark Consumer Representative Actions Bill Published

The much-anticipated Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers Bill 2023 was published today. The purpose of the bill is to transpose the EU Representative Actions Directive (2020/1828), which was first published in 2018, and to provide for related matters.

This legislation will significantly alter the civil litigation landscape in Ireland by enabling consumers to be represented collectively by "qualified entities" in claims concerning a wide range of consumer-facing industries, including financial services, technology and health. The success of the legislation will, however, depend on the ability of the qualified entities, who are required to be non-profit, to fund mass actions on behalf of consumers. The funding of litigation by third parties remains largely prohibited in Ireland and this was a key concern raised during the pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the bill.

When announcing the new legislation last year, Minister Robert Troy commented:

 "This Directive is an important development to improve consumers’ access to justice, contribute to fairer competition, and create a level playing field for businesses operating in the internal market. It modernises the current European Injunctions regime and aims to improve tools for stopping illegal practices. Once implemented, when the rights of a large number of consumers are violated by the same business, a qualified entity can launch a representative action on their behalf before the High Court. This will be a first in Irish law, and will further strengthen consumers’ rights in Ireland and across the EU.

Once commenced, the new law will apply to actions brought on or after 25 June 2023 in relation to breaches of consumer law that occur on or after that date.

We are analysing the bill and will be publishing a more detailed insight. In the meantime, our previous articles on the subject can be accessed here.

If you have any queries about the effect of the bill, please reach out to a member of our Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution team or your usual Matheson contact.