Class action for establishment of liability

An action for establishment of the defendant’s liability is an instrument characteristic for group proceedings. It can be brought in cases where group members can file pecuniary claims against the defendant(s). Amendment no. 1 of 2017 specified that in cases of this type the issue is the establishment of the liability of the defendant(s) for specific event or events.

In such cases the statement of claims should only point to the group members’ cash claim the pursuing of which the judgment establishing liability is to serve. Indicating the amount of these claims is not required, and consequently neither is determining their amount in the frames of group proceedings.

In cases where the statement of claims is limited to establishment of the defendant’s liability, the goal of group proceedings is to prejudge the grounds of defendant’s (defendants’) liability, without deciding on its amount.

In a judgement concluding such an action, the court does not award compensation or any other performance to group’s members, but only establishes defendant’s liability towards them arising from a specific event (events).

Amendment no. 1 of 2017 specified that where the demand for the establishment of the defendant’s liability is allowed, the court shall establish the circumstances that are common for the group members’ and constituting prerequisites of the claims pursued thereby in the judgment.

A judgement concluding group proceedings which is favourable for the group provides a basis for the individual members of the group to bring their individual actions for specific performances (e.g. payment of a specific compensation). Therefore, an action for establishment of liability constitutes a “prelude”, an introduction for future individual proceedings for payment. Hence, upon conclusion of the class action, the judgement shall be binding (shall constitute a precedent) in subsequently initiated proceedings for awarding (e.g. payment of compensation) to individual members of the group. Consequently, after the judgement on establishment of liability issued in a class action becomes final, the defendant’s (defendants’) liability for damages may not be challenged in subsequently initiated individual proceedings, whereas in principle the court shall only examine the amounts of individual group members’ claims for compensation. Individual proceedings shall, therefore, be substantially easier as they will serve only to settle the amount of damages suffered by a specific party without the need to decide who is to be held liable for such a damage.

In cases for cash claims arising from a bodily injury or causing a health disturbance, including claims to which the closest members of the family of the injured party who died as a result of bodily injury or a health disturbance, an action for the establishment of the defendant’s liability is the only admissible type of an action in the frames of group proceedings.