The “Dieselgate” Affair brings with it a New Law: Finally, Collective Actions in Slovenia!
The draft act on class actions will introduce the institution of collective actions and collective settlements to the Slovenian judicial system, accelerating court proceedings and enabling easier access to justice for individuals in the event of mass harm situations.
Slovenian legislation is already familiar with a type of collective action, the so-called organizational declaratory actions, which are regulated in the Consumer Protection Act (Zakon o varstvu potrošnikov). Nonetheless, the institute did not, in practice, take off as it should have done, as many people were not aware that this kind of remedy actually existed in Slovenian law.
The purpose of collective actions in Slovenian law shall be to solve disputes in the field of consumer contracts, disputes arising from the producers’ responsibilities regarding faults in products, antitrust disputes and disputes between issuers and investors in the market of financial instruments and labour disputes. According to the draft act, the state attorney or legal entities under private law with a non-profit making character will be permitted to lodge actions. If the court allows the collective action, it will also have to decide whether to apply the principle of inclusion (opt-in) or exclusion (opt-out) for the harmed individuals. The compensatory collective judgment will declare either on the entire amount of compensation with identified criteria, which will allow the amount belonging to each harmed individual to be determined, or it will declare the amount that the defendant will have to pay to each harmed individual. The latter will have to prove that they meet the criteria set out in the judgment.
The compensatory collective judgments will be binding for all members of the representative entities (class) except for those who will not be included (opt-in option) or those who will be excluded (opt-out). If the collective action fails, a subsequent independent action in civil proceedings will not be permitted. The draft act has no provisions regarding the lodging of an appeal against the collective judgement.
The current draft act is still the subject of expert discussion, and has been severely criticized by specialists in this field. Nevertheless, based on the parliament’s agenda the Class Action Act should be adopted early next year (2017). Hopefully, this law will enable the effective solving of mass compensatory claims and will ease the burden on the courts which have, until now, had to solve mass compensatory claims by dealing with each action individually.