Legislation to allow multi-party litigation not ruled out

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has not ruled out future reform to allow multi-party action or class action procedures in the Irish courts.

Ms Fitzgerald was pressed on the issue by Independent TD Tommy Broughan, who highlighted the “longstanding recommendations” of the Law Reform Commission in that area.

A report on multi-party litigation was published by the Commission in 2005, but its recommendations were not taken forward.

Responding to Mr Broughan, Ms Fitzgerald said: “The implementation of the Report at this remove, and the introduction of any legislation to enable the type of collective legal action envisaged would require a detailed consideration of the merits and impacts in the public interest, including in terms of the sustainability of a collective action regime and its potential costs to the parties concerned and to the Exchequer.

“The areas of law involved include consumer protection, competition, the environment and the provision of financial and other services.

“Consideration would also have to be given to the relevant intervening developments that have taken place at the national, European Union and wider international levels.

“While not part of the current Legislation Programme, therefore, this remains a complex area of legislative reform that will require renewed and thorough consideration and, on that basis, I am happy to keep it in mind for discussion and possible action in the general context of any upcoming reforms in the civil justice area.”

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