A quick update on the long-awaited implementation of the new Class Action, though some obstacles remain

On May 19, 2021, the new “Class Action”[1] entered into force.

The new Class Action is intended to replace the class action provided by the Italian Consumer Code, and it is aimed at both expanding the number of subjects that can initiate a class action (anyone who has a uniform individual right, be it a physical person, a company, or a professional) and including new matters (such as tort law, privacy, and health), as detailed in our previous article.

It was initially intended to be implemented in April 2020, but technical difficulties (new technologies must be implemented and the system must be familiarized with this new arrangement), coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, made it necessary to postpone implementation of the new Class Action to avoid overburdening the Italian courts during this difficult period.

Possible issues

The new Class Action seems to be engendering new problems that could hinder its real-world implementation, at least for the time being. Indeed, it requires three different technical decrees to be issued by the Ministry of Justice. These decrees need to establish several requirements, such as defining entities entitled to participate in the new Class Action, setting attorneys’ fees, establishing how entitled subjects can join the proceedings, and so on.

Furthermore, since the new Class Action proceedings will be pending before the business specialized sections, which are few in number (22 in all), those sections will see their overall workloads increase and will have a harder time absorbing all the new cases. Indeed, the main issue seems to be that these sections will be diverted from their main proceedings (copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, and company law in general) with negative impact on all cases and the sections’ overall workload.

While from a procedural standpoint the law introduced several changes, the complex mechanisms established by the legislature risk eroding the innovative capacity of those changes and hindering their implementation in the foreseeable future.

[1] Law of April 19, 2019, No. 31.

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