By means of Law no. 31, of 12 April 2019, (the “Reform”) the legal framework for class action in Italy has been reshaped entirely with the purpose of broadening its scope of application. In a nutshell these are the main features of the Reform:
Scope of application – Contrary to the old class action regime which was only available to consumers and users, the Reform now extends the possibility to anyone claiming to be part of a class of individual homogeneous rights, to resort to class action.
Defendants in the class action can be private companies, public service operators or utilities providers.
Class actions can be brought for contractual or non-contractual liabilities, seeking corrective actions, inhibitory orders, monetary redress, as well as asset restitution.
Procedure – The proceedings have to follow the mandatory simplified procedure of rito sommario di cognizione, and are broken-down into three phases: admissibility, merits and liquidation.
Publicity – A peculiar regime regarding publicity of the action is provided: the main legal briefs and decisions will be published on-line on a dedicated page on the Ministry of Justice website.
Opt-in – Contrary to the well known US-style class action, the Italian class action provides for an opt-in phase for class members who did not commence the action but nonetheless intend to participate. Under the Reform class members are entitled to join the action not only immediately after the decision on admissibility but also immediately after the final decision on the merits, just before the liquidation phase begins.
Costs – Further to the monetary redress due to the class participants, the new class action regime provides that the loosing defendant shall pay the fees of the representative of the class participants, as well as a success fee in favour of the attorney/s defending the initial claimant/s in the class action.
Injunction action – A specific provision has been introduced entitling anyone (including collective and non-profit organizations which statutory objectives include the protection of the infringed rights) to seek interim urgent relief for the discontinuance of conducts or omissions detrimental to the rights of a group of persons or entities.
Entry into force – The new class action regime will enter into force from 19 April 2020.
Should you wish to receive any additional information on the above please contact any of our Partners of the Dispute Resolution Team.