The purpose of the Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers Act 2023 is to transpose Directive (EU) 2020/1828 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2020 on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC; and to provide for related matters.
The Act sets out the criteria which an entity seeking to be designated as a qualified entity must satisfy and how the designation process will be conducted by the Minister. The Minister may inform an entity of his decision to refuse designation.
The Act permits the Minister to issue a directions notice to direct the qualified entity to return to compliance with any relevant provision of the Act and thereby avoid revocation of designation. There is a provision for revoking the designation as a qualified entity.
An entity or qualified entity, as the case may be, may make representations following notification of the Minister’s intention to refuse designation or revoke designation. The Minister may undertake a review of a qualified entity’s designation in some cases. There is a review mechanism for entities whose application for designation has been refused by the Minister or where a qualified entity’s designation as a qualified entity has been revoked.
The Minister can request a qualified entity to provide information to assess continued compliance with designating criteria. The Minister establishes and maintain a register of qualified entities in Ireland. The Minister is the national contact point for the purposes of the Directive in Ireland.
Specified information must make publicly available on a qualified entity’s website.
Only a qualified entity designated in Ireland, or another EU Member State, may bring a representative action before the High Court. There are provisions for where multiple qualified entities are involved in bringing the same representative action.
A qualified entity must first attempt to engage in consultations with a trader before seeking an injunction against that trader. It may engage with an ADR entity in seeking to commence consultations with a trader.
There is a mechanism by which the High Court will deal with an application for injunctive relief in a representative action.
A consumer must inform a qualified entity of their wish to be represented by it in a representative action. A declaration is to be signed by a consumer when joining a representative action to prevent double compensation from the same trader for the same cause of action.
There is a mechanism by which the High Court will deal with an application for redress from a qualified entity. Disclosures are to be made by qualified entities to the High Court where the representative action is funded by a third-party, in so far as permitted in accordance with Irish law.
There are provisions to deal with the reckoning time for the purposes of interrupting the Statute of Limitations.
Qualified entities may charge a consumer a modest entry fee to be represented by it in a representative action.
The Act specifies the role of the court in dealing with proposed settlements in a representative action. There is provision for allocation of costs by the High Court following a representative action.
The Act specifies the admissibility of final decisions of Courts or administrative authorities of other Member States in a representative action.
A trader or a qualified entity must publish details of any final decisions or settlements after a representative action has been concluded.
There are provisions for the disclosure of evidence by parties, including third parties, in a representative action.