The Law of 28 March 2014 introduces a new section in the Economic Law Code (hereafter, the ELC) entitled 'actions for collective redress', also known as class actions (hereafter, the Law of 28 March 2014).
These class action allow for an aggregate of individual consumer complaints to be brought in a single court proceeding. The introduction of this particular area of law was discussed in Belgium for several years. It must be noted that this is the first time in Belgian law that a class action may be filed to obtain compensation for loss.
The most important objective of this new piece of legislation is the strengthening of the position of consumers. Prior to the Law of 28 March 2014, consumers were forced to file individual actions or rely on extra-judicial ways to resolve disputes. In practice, there were large impediments to the effective use of individual actions: consumers did not have sufficient knowledge of their rights and the costs relating to a single procedure were often too high for the individual to bear. The Law of 28 March 2014 does not amend either the provisions of the Civil Code dealing with civil liability (i.e. no punitive damages) nor the rules of evidence (i.e. no discovery).
BIICL has recently worked with the German public body, the Gesellschaft fur internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on a collective redress project....