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Implementing Decree marks official start for health-related class actions in France

Decree No. 2016-1249 of 26 September 2016, concerning class actions in the field of health, entered into force on 28 September 2016. The Decree was enacted pursuant to the Act for the Modernisation of the Health System which sets the general framework for health-related class actions. It establishes criteria for the implementation of such actions, including modalities to join the class and procedural rules (in particular regarding the assessment of personal injuries). It also lays down criteria for the potential composition of a Mediation Commission consisting of a mediator and members with related expertise (especially, in healthcare and personal injury claims) to settle disputes amicably.

The Decree grants lawyers and judicial officers the competence to assist accredited associations of users of the healthcare system that seek redress for personal injuries sustained by users who find themselves in an identical or similar situation. Redress may be sought for injuries suffered prior to 28 September 2016. Personal injuries (excluding non-pecuniary damages) must derive from a breach of legal or contractual obligations by a health products manufacturer or supplier, or by a healthcare professional using products that cause personal injury. The type of health products concerned include, among others: medicines; biomaterials; cosmetics; contraceptives; and medical devices. Affected users who have not opted into the class action group will maintain their right to pursue individual action for personal injury claims.

Health-related class actions follow the introduction of antitrust and general consumer class action litigation in 2014 (Loi Hamon) and aim to protect claimants after a series of healthcare scandals. Simultaneously, the French Parliament is discussing a bill on the Modernisation of 21st century justice that provides a general framework for class actions. Whether health-related class actions will be included in this framework has yet to be decided.

A prior version of this post was originally published by the same authors in Practical Law – Life Sciences, October 2016 Issue (Thomson Reuters).

This post was originally authored by Patricia Carmona Botana.