Lessons from America
New Horizons in Law and Economics series
Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus, Alberto Cassone and Giovanni B. Ramello
Mariana França Gouveia and Nuno Garoupa In this chapter we discuss the introduction of class actions in Portugal. We start by looking at the current legal framework and making some important distinctions from the American version of class action. We then look at procedural rules concerning the adequacy of representation, notification of class members and calculation of damages. We further discuss some recent developments, including the introduction of consolidation in civil procedure. Some final remarks conclude the chapter. 1. INTRODUCTION In Portugal, class actions exist in the current legal framework, but they are different from the American model to some extent, both in nature and in procedure. The legal framework for class actions (acção popular) is fundamentally established by Law 83/95, of August 31. Nevertheless, this law deals simultaneously with the right of the community to participate in the process of designing certain public policies (therefore establishing the procedural rules for such participation) and class actions per se. The right to participation in designing public policies allows citizens to contribute to the decision process concerning certain matters of general interest such as zoning. In this chapter, we look exclusively at class actions as regulated by Law 83/95. Other relevant pieces of legislation are commented upon at the end of the chapter. We should nevertheless emphasize that we define class actions in a very broad way, that is, an action interposed by a private party (natural or legal person) to determine rights and remedies where the private party is...
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