In a previous briefing, we summarised the Act.  The purpose of the Act is to transpose Directive (EU) 2020/1828 on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, repealing Directive 2009/22/EC and to provide for related matters.  The Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers Act 2023 (Prescribed Forms) Regulations 2024 prescribe a number of forms to be used in conjunction with the Act as it takes practical effect in Ireland.

Prior to the commencement of the Act, Ireland did not have a single, uniform system for facilitating collective consumer actions.  Under the Act, a qualified entity may now bring forth a representative action for the protection of the collective interests of consumers to seek injunctive relief and/or redress in respect of infringements by traders under the relevant enactments listed in the Schedule to the Act.  A “qualified entity” is a legal person or public body representing consumers’ interests which has been designated as such by the Minister or a Member State (other than Ireland) as qualified to bring representative actions.  Depending on the relief sought, consumers may be required to opt in to a representative action. The High Court will hear representative actions. 

As we have commented previously, the effectiveness of the Act may be tempered by the levels of funding required to maintain a representative action and current litigation funding restrictions.  Third party litigation funding is where a third party (with no existing connection to the litigation) agrees to finance a party’s costs of litigation in return for an entitlement to a portion of any proceeds recovered by the funded party. The torts and offences of maintenance and champerty remain part of Irish law and largely prohibit third party litigation funding.  

However, this legal landscape may be changing.  The Law Reform Commission’s report setting out its recommendations concerning proposed changes to third party funding is awaited following a period of submissions, which passed on 15 December 2023.  Furthermore, as we have previously discussed, there is a broader policy review of the Irish position regarding third party funding including the enactment of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2023 in July 2023. Once commenced this will amend the Arbitration Act 2010 to permit third party funding of international commercial arbitration.

We will continue to monitor developments and provide a further update in due course. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this update in more detail, please get in touch with any member of our Litigation, Dispute Resolution and Investigations Group