Who is a “group representative”?

Group proceedings are based on the principle of representation, which means that during the proceedings, it is the group representative, carrying out the group’s interests, who acts on behalf of the group. The group itself, without a representative, cannot initiate a group (class) action, as only the group representative is entitled (has the legal capacity) to do so.

The rule of representation means that in group proceedings only the group representative has a status of the claimant. The representative participates in the proceedings under their own name but on behalf of all the group members, simultaneously pursuing their own claims (barring situations where this function is performed by the consumer ombudsman or the Financial Ombudsman) as well as those of the remaining group members.

The representative may therefore be either a member of the group or a district (municipal) consumer ombudsman in cases concerning the protection of consumer interests.

In addition, since the amendment, which entered into force on March 16, 2023, the group’s representative may be the Financial Ombudsman – in the scope of claims:

  1. customers of a financial market entity within the meaning of Art. 2 point 1 of the Act of August 5, 2015 on handling complaints by financial market entities, on the Financial Ombudsman and on the Financial Education Fund (Journal of Laws of 2022, item 187, 1488 and 2640),
  2. arising from a contract for the provision of services or performance of activities for a natural person by a financial institution within the meaning of Art. 4 point 4 of the Act of 5 August 2015 on macroprudential supervision over the financial system and crisis management in the financial system (Journal of Laws of 2022, item 2536).

Group proceedings require mandatory representation by a lawyer, which means that the representative has to be represented by an attorney at law or legal counsel (of course, except for cases where the group representative is an attorney at law or legal counsel; this requirement also does not apply when the representative is the Financial Ombudsman). The group representative decides on the choice of a professional attorney to represent him in group proceedings, gives him or her a power of attorney, and also negotiates and enters into a legal representation agreement with an attorney.