The adoption of an action group “the French” is imminent. At the time opens in Marseille the trial of PIP, the return on this new instrument to repair the damage of mass and on the issues related to that.

Can we pledge that a victim is isolated, impressed by the difficulties of a court proceeding, could bring a single action against a large company ?

We remember all of the victory of Julia Roberts in the face with a giant of the energy in the film “Erin Brokovitch, alone against all”, where the victims of water pollution are grouped together to condemn the company to the origin of the prejudice to the payment of millions of dollars of damages.

The action group, the “class action” under u.s. law, is a procedure that allows persons who have suffered the same harm to get together and take legal action to seek redress for their individual harm. The unequal power relationship between professionals and individuals is thus rebalanced.

The action group aims to the detriment of the “mass”, that is to say, those affecting a high number of people. However, it currently does not exist in France any procedure suitable for this case.

Evidence of this deficiency in our law : the survivors in French Concordia have had to turn to a law firm american to unite against the Italian company, while the trial of prostheses PIP was in need of renting a room of 4 800 m2 in the Parc Chanot in Marseille to host some 5 250 complainants. Is this normal ?

The advantage to induce this new action is also preventive : it encourages professionals to comply with the law. It is therefore the protection of each citizen who is in the game.

It is regrettable, however, that this project is limited to the right to consumption, and excluded from its scope of application the company law, the securities law and especially the areas of health and the environment.
In addition, the draft law only provides for compensation of material damages, excluding bodily injury, environmental damage and moral damages. The action group is thus emptied of a large part of its substance.

The class actions the u.s. brought against the tobacco producers did not focus on the price of a package of cigarettes, but on the carcinogenic effects of the products sold.

In France, it is worth remembering that in many cases such as the Pick, the prostheses PIP, asbestos or the pollution of the air by the diesel, affecting precisely the areas of environmental and health and have caused bodily harm ? It would no doubt be time to review the order of priorities.

The second criticism of this project is rooted in the monopoly granted to registered associations of consumer protection to implement the group action. Officially, this is to avoid the drift of the actions of the group “the american way”. But the formula is not without its pitfalls.

First, it may seem questionable to confer a role of prosecutor, private associations depend upon ministerial approval. Then, it is not sure that this restriction of the right of action is consistent with the principle of free and equal access to justice recognized by the european Convention on human rights.

Finally, such a monopoly mark a suspicion and a mistrust for illegitimate with respect to the lawyers, including the full capacity in these procedures is the only way to guarantee the rights of citizens.

In conclusion, this project has minima only answer really, nor is the need for adaptation of our judicial system for the litigation of mass, or to environmental issues and health. It may endow France of a law obsolete even before it enters into force.

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