The new class action law in France and its impact on insurers

A new French law (the Consumer Act) that took effect on 18 March 2014 allows consumers to bring class actions in France. The actions are inspired by US federal law but the scope of applicability and the role of lawyers and consumer associations are substantially different.

The ability to bring a French class action increases the exposure of insurers: for the insurance products they sell to consumers; for the coverage of their insureds’ liability to class actions; and to numerous small individual claims that may not otherwise have been brought.

Contrary to the US class action, consumer associations will be given a central role in French class actions. Only accredited nationally representative consumer associations are allowed to initiate class actions before a civil court or take part in mediation procedures. This monopoly means that lawyers may not initiate class actions…

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