CLASS ACTIONS FOR THE PROTECTION OF COLLECTIVE INTERESTS
The amendments and modifications of Litigation Act in June 2011, for the first time in our procedural law, provide possibility of bringing class actions for protection of collective interests and rights, whereby the said provisions enter into force as from the day Croatia accesses the European Union.
Who is actively legitimated to file a claim? Associations, bodies, institutions and other organisations established in accordance with law, that, within their registered activity, deal with the protection of legally ascertained citizens’ collective interests and rights. Persons themselves, for the protection of whose collective interests and rights the claim has been brought, can intervene in this procedure as interveners.
Who is the action brought against? Against natural or legal person, who significantly infringes or severely endangers the alleged collective interests and rights through the pursuit of specific activity, work or practice (or failure to act).
Content of protected collective interests: They are exemplary given and can concern human’s environment and life surroundings, moral, ethnical, consumer, antidiscrimination and other. It is necessary those interests to be granted by law and significantly infringed or endangered by the defendant’s activity or practice. For example, these are the consumers’ rights granted by the Consumer protection Act.
Which court is competent? The court of general territorial jurisdiction, according to the residence/ seat of the defendant, or the court of the territory where the harmful action is committed.
Remedy provided: A plaintiff can seek:
1. Declaration that collective interests, which the plaintiff is entitled to protect, are infringed or endangered due to the certain action (or failure to act) of the defendant,
2. Prohibition to undertake actions therewith those interests or rights are infringed, including usage of certain contract provisions or business practice.
3. Ordering defendant to undertake actions for the deflection of incurred or possible harmful consequences of prohibited action, including re–establishment of the previous situation or situation in which no such infringement can happen,
4. Announcement of judgement in the press, if any plaintiff’s claim is accepted.
Besides “ordinary” claim, the court can order an injunction from the Enforcement Act, upon plaintiff’s request.
Counter- claim: Defendant can put forward a counter- claim thereby seeking to render his certain action as not a collective interest infringing or endangering one for the contested collective interest or right. He can also ask to prohibit a plaintiff- counter- defendant certain conduct, specially his appearance in public, compensation of damages and announcement of judgement in the press, at counter- defendant’ s expense.
Binding judgements from “collective law suits“: It is a novelty that natural and legal persons can in separate law suits for the compensation of damages refer to the adjudication in some judgement, where the collective claim was accepted. In this case, the court will be bound by this adjudication.