France

Over the past few years, France enacted a number of class actions laws, covering a wide range of issue areas, such as anti-trust, health, and environmental.

France's true class action regime started in 2014 with the passage of a bill allowing for opt-in class actions on antitrust/competition and consumer protection. The bill gives certain government-approved representative associations the right to initiate group actions on behalf of individual consumers who may have been harmed in such cases.

In 2016, a new class action law on health related matters passed. Among other features, the law allows close to 500 national and regional health patient associations to seek redress for personal/bodily injuries caused by certain health products (including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and blood products) and cosmetic and contact lenses products listed in the French Code of Public Health. The new law, which is fully retroactive, went into effect in July 2016.

In 2017, the French National Assembly adopted legislation that would require French companies and multinational corporations that do business in France to disclose all “vigilance measures” that the company has taken to minimize the risk of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by the companies’ operations around the world. This legislation could open the French court system to human rights and environmental claimants, even if their claims occurred outside of France and potentially even if the company being sued is not a French company but merely conducts business there.