The collective action was introduced into Belgian law by an act of 28 March 2014. To date, only groups of consumers represented by a group representative may bring collective claims before the Belgian Court in case of collective damage.
On 1 September 2017, the Belgian Counsel of Ministers approved a preliminary draft bill extending the access to collective actions to small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s). As an implementation of the Commission recommendation 2013/396/EU, SME’s will be able to act, represented by a group representative, such as an interprofessional organization, an association authorized by the Minister of Economy or a representative entity designated for this purpose by a Member State of the EU / EEA.
Collective actions may be brought for damages based on violations of a whole range of issues, such as e.g. competition law, consumer protection, payment & credit services, safety of products & services, intellectual property and electronic economy, privacy protection, health, passenger transport, energy, …
This proposed draft bill is proposed to enter into force on 1 January 2018.
Before the act of 28 March 2014, Philip Walravens & his team have been involved in a number of Belgium’s most notable “class action damage claims”, especially involving financial products, such as the Lernout & Hauspie case. In the past, such cases, involving thousands of claimants were extremely difficult to manage, which was a source of frustration for all parties involved, defendants and claimants alike.
Under the new act, we were already instructed in one of the first cases to be introduced in Court, concerning a claim by a consumer organization against a series of concert ticket resellers, some of whom we represent. The case is actually pending.
Our Class Actions team is able to bring it’s highly valued past experience in the new possibilities offered by the 28 March 2014 act and its foreseen extension.