Class actions

In a class action one party commences an action on behalf of other persons who have a claim to a remedy for the same or a similar wrong.

The person that conducts the action, the representative plaintiff, is a party to the litigation; other persons having claims that share questions of law and fact in common with those of the representative plaintiff are the members of a ‘class’.

Once the class has been determined, the class members are bound by the outcome of the litigation even though they do not, strictly speaking, participate in the proceedings.

Class actions were introduced to Russia by the Federal law # 205 – FZ of July 19, 2009 “On changes to certain legislative acts” which came into force on October 21, 2009.

Class actions in Russia have limited scope: disputes from commercial relations, including those on corporate governance or those that originate from capital market transactions, can be heard under the regime. Claims of general public, like for instance consumer cases or tort claims, cannot.

A class action can be initiated if five or more persons join the claim of the representative plaintiff by the day of filing of the court application.

The representative plaintiff can be discharged by court on the application of the majority of class members if it is proven that ‘he or she grossly neglects his or her duties or is not capable to represent the interests of the class’.

Russian law follows the ‘opt in’ approach. A claimant must do certain steps to be included in a ‘class’. The peculiarity of Russian law is that once a class action started claimants loose their right to pursue individual claims, outside the class.

Moreover, according to article 225.16 of the Сode of Arbitration Procedure, as in force from October 21, an individual plaintiff ‘who did not use his or her right to join the class’ will be barred from proceeding with litigation if a similar claim to the same defendant had been resolved as a class action.