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Greece

Author: Alexandra Mikroulea and Alsarif Satti

I. Factsheet

Scope

No horizontal mechanism but joinder of parties, consolidation of proceedings available. A sectoral mechanism in consumer law is available and allows both injunctive and limited compensatory relief.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Joinder does not ensure access to justice or fairness as multiple claimants are not treated as a single entity and joined claims remain ind. vis a vis the claimants.

Poor transparency of joinder proceedings: Defendant not aware of the composition of a group of claimants.

Standing (Para. 4-7)

Representative Action

A representative action may be filed by a consumer association which fills specific criteria on number of membership and registration on Consumer Associations Reg. Associations need to satisfy the criteria of points (a) and (b) of para 4 of the Recommendation. Status of consumer associations is revoked if associations do not demonstrate any activity for two years or violate certain provisions of the Consumer Act.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

As regards point (c) of para 4 of the Recommendation, there are no requirements in respect to the entities' capacity in terms of financial and human resources, and legal expertise.

Admissibility (Para. 8-9)

Early determination of admissibility questions. Consumer claims brought for protection of consumer interest. The general requirement of legal interest.

Information on Collective Redress (Para. 10-12, 35-37)

Information available on collective redress actions via consumer association websites. National Registry not available.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

No registry.

Funding (Para. 14-16)

In claims brought be consumer associations: registration fees, contributions, income generated, public funds, non-pecuniary damages compensations. Private funding not allowed.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Registration fees are too low to generate sufficient funds to support representative action.

Cross Border Cases (Para. 17-18)

National rules on admissibility or standing facilitate foreign claimant or foreign representative entity involvement.

Expedient procedures for injunctive orders (Para. 19)

Legislation requires courts in consumer representative claims to hear dispute at the 'earliest possible hearing date' (article 10(20) of the Consumer Act).

Efficient enforcement of injunctive orders (Para. 20)

Art. 10(21) of the Law on Consumer Protection grants the Minister of Development the power to issue ministerial order obliging suppliers to adhere to a court decision. Sanctions for non-compliance with injunctive order possible (up to €100,000 for any violation).

The injunctive order may also impose detention up to one year against the incompliant supplier. If the aforementioned penalties are not included in the injunctive order, the application can be made to the court of first instance.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Ministerial order can subsequently be amended

No formal-judicial mechanism for monitoring compliance with an injunction order.

Opt-In/Opt-Out (Para. 21-24)

Opt-out process. However, the need for subsequent individual claims effectively results to functioning as an opt-in process.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Opt-in unsuitable. Opt-out proceedings are more apt to overcome both damage-quantification problems and rational apathy on the part of victims.

Collective ADR and Settlements (Para. 25-28)

No provision for collective alternative dispute resolution but in practice, a consumer protection association may attempt to mediate. Proposed solution not binding on parties.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Settlements not examined by the courts.

Out of court settlements not common.

Costs (Para. 13)

Loser pays principle applies, however, the court has a wide discretion as to what is "reasonable".

Lawyers' Fees Para. 29-30

Contingency fees allowed but it is not clear how contingency fees affect the incentive to litigate.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Abusive litigation and/or frivolous litigation can arise due to the way in which lawyers are remunerated on the basis of hourly rates, which is often the case when the defendant is a corporation.

Allowance of contingency fees.

Prohibition of punitive damages (Para. 31)

Non-pecuniary (moral) damages available in representative claims and must be used to further consumer protection purposes. Akin to punitive damages.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Availability of punitive damages.

Collective Follow- on actions (Para 33-34)

Individual actions for damages start after final injunction order in consumer cases. Joinder mechanism used in such cases. Follow-on claims in competition rare due to length of proceedings.

Problems/Incompatibilities with Recommendation principles

Procedure before Competition Commission (HCC) lengthy and subject to a short limitation period. No suspension of limitation periods until the HCC reaches its decision Interplay between injunctions and compensation across all sectors.

Collective injunctive and compensatory actions (moral damages) can be brought within single proceedings in consumer cases. Individual consumers can bring a subsequent individual claim for damages based on injunctive order.

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