Opt-out collective actions (i.e. US-style class actions) can only be brought in the UK as competition law claims.  Periodic proposals  to legislate to expand this regime to consumer law claims have so far faltered.  However, this is now back on the Parliamentary agenda.  Several members of the House of Lords have indicated their support for expanding the regime to allow consumers and small businesses to bring opt-out collective actions for breaches of consumer law, and potentially on other bases.

If implemented, this expansion would be very significant and would allow for many new types of class actions in the UK.  Tech companies are already prime targets as defendants to competition-related opt-out class actions.  An expansion of the regime to allow actions for breaches of consumer law, as well as competition law, would only increase their exposure further.

As there is now limited time for legislation to be passed to effect such changes before the UK Parliament is dissolved in advance of an upcoming general election, this may be an issue for the next Parliament.  It will therefore be important to assess what the UK’s main parties say on this – and any manifesto commitments – in the run-up to the election.Continue Reading UK Opt-Out Class Actions for Non-Competition Claims back on Parliamentary Agenda

On 21 December 2012, the European Commission published a Code of EU Online Rights (the “Code”) as part of its on-going Digital Agenda for Europe initiative.  The aim of the Code is to set out in a single, user-friendly document the minimum rights of consumers in the digital environment.  European consumer rights arise under a number of different EU laws, including laws relating to electronic communications, data privacy, e-commerce and more general consumer advertising and protection rules.  The Code summarises pre-existing legal rights from a variety of these source laws, but the Code itself is not a legal document.  The Commission hopes that by raising awareness of these rights, the Code will inspire trust and confidence in consumers when they make use of online resources.
Continue Reading The European Commission Publishes a Code of EU Online Rights