INTRODUCTION OF CLASS ACTIONS INTO FRENCH HEALTH LAW: A NEW THREAT TO THE LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY?
Life sciences is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world, and the potential for lawsuits is high because of the nature of the work involved.
For several years, the life sciences industry has been fertile ground for class actions in the United States. However, given the rulings handed down by US courts, it seems that class actions might not be the right tool for this industry. For instance, individualised questions of causation and damages are at the origin of the US courts’ refusal to allow class action treatment in product liability actions in the industry.
Nevertheless, stakeholders in the life sciences industry have to keep a watchful eye on the increasing initiatives within the European Union to introduce the class action device. For instance, class actions in product liability matters are now available in France, Belgium, Italy and England. Needless to say, adopting class actions around Europe may increase the litigation risk for companies involved in this industry, although it is important that such risk is not overstated.
Today, discussions around class actions are particularly significant in France. After years of intense debates and many unsuccessful attempts, recent public health scandals have bolstered a push for class actions in health-related cases. Eventually, the Bill related to the modernisation of the French health system was adopted in France on 17 December 2015, where Article 45 provides for the introduction of class actions regarding health products, and came into force on 1 July 2016.
Oct-Dec 2016 issue