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Greece

Author: Alexandra Mikroulea and Alsarif Satti

III. General Collective Redress Mechanism

Absent a general collective redress mechanism under Greek law, any collective claims which are joined pursuant to the mechanisms examined in this section, will follow the ordinary procedural rules of the CCP. The CPP does contain a series of provisions allowing the participation of more persons in the same trial. The most important of these provisions are those concerning the joinder of parties (articles 74-77).

1.Scope/Type

a.The 'Ordinary Joinder of Parties'

Under article 74 CCP, more persons can sue or be sued collectively when:

-They have a joint right or obligation in respect to the dispute at issue, or when their rights or obligations are based on the same factual or legal grounds; or

-The dispute concerns similar claims or obligations which are based on similar factual and legal grounds. In this case, the court must be competent to adjudicate the dispute for every defendant.

The 'ordinary joinder of parties' allows the joining of multiple parties in a common procedure, so as a single judgment can be issued vis-à-vis all the parties. In the procedure, multiple individual suits are kept and are independent from each other. When the requirements of the ordinary joinder of parties are satisfied, the parties to a trial may choose to sue or be sued collectively through the ordinary joinder of parties, but there is no obligation thereto.

b.'Compulsory Joinder of Parties'

The other type of joinder of parties under the CCP is the so-called 'compulsory joinder of parties' (articles 76f CCP). In this case, the joinder of parties is necessary and not merely at the discretion of the parties. The joinder of parties is necessary when: a) the dispute can only be adjudicated uniformly vis-à-vis all the parties; b) the force of res judicata will extend to other parties; c) a legal provision (procedural or substantive) requires the joint standing of the parties, failing which it shall be inadmissible and; d) there can be no contradictory judgments vis-à-vis the parties.

In the case of the compulsory joinder of parties, one or both sides to the dispute constitute a single entity comprising of multiple persons. A number of exceptions to that rule are set out in article 76(2) CCP, which provides that the parties are not bound by the actions of their co-litigants as regards settlement, admission of the claim, withdrawal of litigation and agreement to resort to arbitration. Secondly, when a party to a compulsory joinder of parties challenges a court decision, the legal effect is extended to other co-litigants, who are considered to have also filed an appeal.

c.'Third Party Intervention'

The CCP contains a chapter laying out rules for third party intervention (articles 79ff CCP). Greek Law distinguishes between two types of intervention:

a)The first type concerns a third party who asserts a claim to the object or the right of the proceedings pending between other persons (Artice 79 CCP). The third-party may only intervene in the first instance, pursuant to recent reforms introduced in civil procedure, as part of the ESM Programme for Greece. This kind of intervention serves the judicial economy and will not be explored further, as it is of little relevance for collective claims.

b)The second type provides for third-party intervention in support of a party to pending proceedings (article 80 CCP). The CCP sets out specific conditions that need to be satisfied: the intervening party must be a third person to the dispute and have a legitimate interest in one party prevailing over the other. The third-party may intervene at any stage of the legal dispute until a final judgment is issued. The intervening party does not acquire the status of the plaintiff or defendant but is merely given the chance to support either party to the proceedings, in order to avoid potential negative consequences from the court's decision. That would be the case if a creditor in a mortgage loan would intervene in support of its debtor in a trial concerning the ownership of the secured property. It is evident that the provision is ill-suited for collective claims.

d.Consolidation

Under Greek Law, individual claims can also be joined upon order of the courts, provided that the proceedings are subject to the same set of procedural rules (article 246 CCP). However, separate claims retain their independence. As a consequence, the court might issue a decision only for some of the consolidated claims and not for the others.

Contrary to other legal orders, in Greece, there are no mechanisms for screening inadmissible or unfounded claims prior to the hearing date. When a plaintiff submits a claim at the courts' secretariat, a hearing date is fixed in any case, even when the conditions for a claim are obviously not met. The assessment of whether the conditions for a claim are met is a matter of judicial evaluation. As civil trials in Greece are completed after only one hearing session, the court will rule on the question of whether the conditions for a claim are met in its final decision, whilst also ruling on the substance of the case.

2.Impact of the Recommendation/Critiques

There have been no concrete attempts for the introduction of a general collective redress mechanism, following the publication of the Commission Recommendation 2013/396/EU (hereafter 'Commission Recommendation'), as the Greek legislator does not seem to consider the introduction of collective redress mechanisms as a priority.

Although the compulsory joinder of parties seems prima facie suitable for collective redress, it will rarely be applicable in mass harm situations. The cases in which individual claims need to be joined necessarily are specific and are defined exhaustively in the CCP. Therefore, collective claims pursuant to mass harm situations will usually be brought under the procedural mechanism of the ordinary joinder of parties.

Under Greek law, collective claims pursuant to mass harm situations, within the meaning of the Commission Recommendation, will usually be brought under the procedural mechanism of the ordinary joinder of parties. This mechanism, however, cannot ensure access to justice and fairness of proceedings in accordance with the Commission Recommendation, in light of the fact that the multiple claimants are not treated as a single entity and their joined claims remain individual vis-à-vis each other

In one case, a group of claimants brought forward an action, on the grounds of the alleged violation of the Directive 75/129/EEC regarding collective redundancies. In that case, the multiple claims were joined under the provisions regarding the ordinary joinder of parties. This created significant procedural difficulties, as it meant that various court documents submitted by the defendant should be serviced to each one of the claimants, instead to a single (representative) entity. This requirement significantly raised the cost of litigation and consequently mitigated the chances for an out-of-court settlement, as the high costs are borne by the defendant, effectively reduced the amount that could be paid in settlements. Furthermore, the applicable procedural rules on the ordinary joinder of parties, cannot ensure transparency of proceedings. Namely, the defendant might not be duly informed about the composition of the group of claimants and any changes therein, as the CCP does not contain any provisions requiring a group of claimants to provide relevant information to the defendant.

1. Ev Mpalogianni in Charoula Apalagaki (ed), Code of Civil Procedure: Interpretation of the Articles (3rd edn, Nomiki Vivliothiki 2013), art 74.

2. Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 505/2011 (NOMOS Legal Database)

3. K Kerameys, D Kondylis and N Nikas (eds), Interpretation of the Code of Civil Procedure (Sakkoulas Publications Athens-Thesasaloniki 2000) vol 1, art 74

4. K Beis, K Kalavros and S Stamatopoulos (eds), Procedure Law of Private Disputes (Ant N Sakkoulas 1999) 325

5. Areios Pagos (Supreme Court, Plenary Session) 63/1981 (NOMOS Legal Database); Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 770/2009 (NOMOS Legal Database); Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 1130/2011 (NOMOS Legal Database); Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 1681/2013 (NOMOS Legal Database); Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 1382/2014 (NOMOS Legal Database); Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 241/2015 (NOMOS Legal Database); Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 855/2015 (NOMOS Legal Database)

6. Law 4335/2015 (Government Gazette A/87 23 July 2015). See further Ev Mapalogianni/M Georgiadou in Charoula Apalagaki (ed.), Code of Civil Procedure: Interpretation of the Articles (4th edn, Nomiki Vivliothiki 2016), art 79 (in Greek)

7. K Kerameys/D Kondylis/ N Nikas (eds), Interpretation of the Code of Civil Procedure (Sakkoulas Publications Athens-Thesasaloniki 2000) vol1, art 80 (in Greek); Ev Mapalogianni/M Georgiadou in Charoula Apalagaki (ed.), Code of Civil Procedure: Interpretation of the Articles (4th edn, Nomiki Vivliothiki 2016), art 80(in Greek)

8. Areios Pagos (Supreme Court) 1270/2015 (NOMOS Legal Database)

9. In the context of this case, the CJEU issued a preliminary ruling, clarifying the applicable legal rules, see Joined cases C-187/05 to C-190/05 Agorastoudis and Others ECLI:EU:C:2006:535, [2006] I-07775

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