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Spain

Author: María Paz García Rubio / Marta Otero Crespo

IV. Legislative consultations and reform proposals

Following an ADR scheme, on March 2013, the Spanish Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) has suggested setting a special arbitration system (arbitraje universal) to compensate for a widely spread situation of 'collective interest': the investors' losses being compensated in preference shares. However, most of those cases are being settling through individual arbitration.

Currently there is a Draft bill published on May 2013 in order to modify some LEC provisions regarding consumer protection (122/000106 Proposición de Ley de modificación de la Ley 1/2000, de 7 de enero, de Enjuiciamiento Civil, para la tutela judicial colectiva de consumidores y usuarios). The wording proposes to enhance collective actions in Spain, as they have not been used widely as a means of consumer protection over the last few years. Nowadays the preference shares problem - where thousands of Spanish bank clients who bought such shares have lost their life savings without being informed about the kind of risky financial product they were acquiring - is a clear example of the difficulties and reluctances to apply collective redress devices in this Country, both judicial and/or out-of-court mechanisms. Instead of collective solutions, we are envisaging individual trials and/ or arbitrations. It has been justified on several grounds as lack of homogeneity amongst cases, non- adapted courts, etc.

Spain will have 24 months from 26 July 2013 onwards (date of the publication of the Recommendation in the Official Journal of the EU) to implement the principles set out in this text. The question is whether we may have to wait until 2015 to find out if the Spanish legislature moves forward in the collective redress area.

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