Shoppers, if you have ever climbed a wall of frustration over a defective product, take heart. To boost consumer confidence in the internal market, the European Parliament has just voted overwhelmingly in favour of improving redress EU-wide. The European Commission is studying ways for consumers to form groups and lodge court cases against companies they feel wronged by.
The official in charge of the parliament’s role in this, Béatrice Patrie, takes a reassuring tone. She says: “We are at the debate stage. Class action is rattling some nerves in Europe. These cases exist in the US, with some problems. They’re criticised for their very aggressive character over there, since legal firms tend to go doorstepping consumers. This ends up in damage and punitive payments that not only make up for the consumers’ trouble but punish the economic operators. This most certainly does not correspond with our European culture.”
Consumers in Europe currently make little use of collective litigation mechanisms available to them to defend their rights, according to the Commission. It aims to modernise consumer Directives and simplify the rules both for consumers and professionals.