This week, the European Council and Parliament reached provisional agreement on a new European Union (EU) directive to ‘empower consumers for the green transition’.
Our On the Record Rapid-Fire Series provides insights and analysis on commercial and contractual disputes – and the issues that drive them. The series addresses a range of topics, including class actions, crypto, product litigation, and cross-border, life sciences and technology disputes. To keep up with all the changes in high-value and complex commercial and contractual disputes, subscribe to our updates below.
In January 2023, the European Union adopted the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which requires EU and non-EU companies with activities in the EU to file annual sustainability reports alongside their financial statements. These reports must be prepared in accordance with European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).
On July 31, 2023, the European Commission adopted the first set of ESRS. The ESRS soon will become law and will apply directly in all 27 EU member states, but not in the UK. Companies will need to report in compliance with these new ESRS as early as the 2024 reporting period.
The standards are notable for their breadth and granularity, going well beyond the reporting requirements in other mandatory and voluntary ESG reporting frameworks. It is clear that companies in scope need to start getting ready to report to these new ESRS now.
On 2 August 2023, the UK government published its long-awaited proposals for reform of the UK product safety regime. There are 13 wide-ranging proposals, some of which could radically change the UK product safety landscape and/or have a significant impact for stakeholders.
The UK government has launched a public consultation on the reforms, which is open until 24 October 2023.
The European Commission recently published proposals for rules promoting the repair of goods. It is likely that there will be class actions in relation to right to repair. The EC has proposed that the legislation would be added into scope of the new Representative Actions Directive that would enable class action style claims where the new obligations have not been complied with.
On the 23 March 2023, the European Commission proposed a new Green Claims Directive (the “Directive”). If adopted, the Directive will have a huge impact on businesses making green claims on the products they sell in the EU.
The EU is currently overhauling its product liability laws. Prompted by the perceived risks of new technologies and a desire to make it easier for claimants to bring claims for medical device and pharmaceutical claims, the changes represent a major shift in the litigation landscape in the EU. They will have a profound effect for life sciences companies, especially when taken together with the EU’s new class actions mechanisms. As a result, businesses need to prepare for an increase in the already growing trend of EU consumer claims against life sciences manufacturers and suppliers.
European Commission publishes new liability rules to simplify claims for damage caused by AI-systems
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales has set aside a stay in order to allow the English court to determine the validity of an arbitration clause contained in a contract between an English consumer and a foreign company. The stay had been imposed by the Commercial Court under section 9 of the Arbitration Act 1996 in favour of arbitral proceedings in New York. The Court of Appeal considered that the case had significant implications for consumers in general and it was therefore important that the issues were considered and ruled upon in public in an English court rather than privately in a US arbitration.
New laws allowing groups of EU consumers to launch class actions against traders are to be implemented by 25 December 2022 and will apply from June next year. The EU’s Representative Actions Directive (EU) 2020/1828 represents a major overhaul of the European class actions landscape, introducing mechanisms for group litigation in every one of the EU’s 27 Member States, alongside a new cross-border mechanism for class actions.