How do we work?
What do we do?
Ius Omnibus intends to safeguard the rights ant interests of consumers who are citizens of European Union Member States or of third States residing in the European Union. The Association aims to protect all the rights conferred to them by the legal orders of the European Union and its Member States, including those arising from: Consumer Law, General Contractual Terms, Advertising Law, Competition Law, Law of Unfair Commercial Practices, Regulatory Law, Environmental Law and Personal Data Privacy Law.
We will direct our efforts, most of all, into the defense of these rights and interests through the promotion of legal actions aimed at obtaining the restoration of legality and/or the due compensation of consumers for damage caused by companies’ unlawful behaviour. In this regard, our efforts will be directed mainly at filling the gaps in consumer protection, as mentioned above, being complementary to, and not intended to replace, other crucial consumer protection mechanisms which already exist, such as mediation and consumer arbitration.
We will also pursue our goals through the participation in structures and processes of consultation with consumer protection associations, as well as through the exercise of the multiple rights that consumer law gives us and collaboration with public entities to promote improvements and developments in the legislative and regulatory framework.
Activities that Ius performs include:
- Participation in legislative processes and public consultations (eg ANACOM, Competition Authority, ERSE, Draft transposition of the Spanish Representation Shares Law);
- Participation in conferences, courses and training actions (eg The Nuts and Bolts of Mass Actions Conference 2023; AEFDUP’s Brief Course on Consumer Rights);
- Cooperation with regulatory bodies (eg ASAE, ANACOM, ERSE);
- Advising consumers with questions and complaints;
- Disclosure of news at European level (eg Ius website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn);
- Partnerships with academic entities to promote Consumer Law (eg Academic Association of the Faculty of Law of Lisbon);
- Donation of books related to consumer protection.
Furthermore, Ius Omnibus pursues legal actions in defense of consumer rights (see below and see Cases)
What is the process to identify new potential legal actions?
Ius Omnibus identifies new potential actions, mainly, through 3 ways:
- Identification of legal infringements (already declared by public authorities or not) by the staff of Ius Omnibus, based on surveillance of the markets through the media, online sources and Ius Omnibus’ own investigations;
- Complaints of legal infringements by consumers or companies;
- Proposals to promote actions to re-establish legality and to compensate consumers, presented by law firms, economic consultancy firms or others.
As for the complaints, Ius Omnibus invites all consumers and companies who are aware of the existence of consumer rights violations to contact Ius Omnibus and to provide us with all the information they have in this regard. Ius Omnibus will do everything, within its possibilities, to confirm the existence of the illegal behaviour and to act to put an end to it and, if applicable, to guarantee the compensation of the injured parties.
As for proposals to promote actions, Ius Omnibus invites all lawyers and other service providers to think of this association as a platform that they can use to defend consumers’ rights. Ius Omnibus will find, whenever possible, ways to remunerate the work required to defend these rights. In addition, Ius Omnibus is always open to any and all other ideas or projects, including collaboration with other NGOs and public or private entities, which contribute to the defense of consumer rights in the European Union.
How are Ius Omnibus legal actions selected?
The selection process is dependent on a careful and demanding analysis of the factual and legal aspects of each case by our members, lawyers and economists, divided into several stages and levels of control. Ius Omnibus will only pursue actions of manifest merit and with significant possibilities of success. Preference will be given to pursuing actions based on illegal practices already identified in decisions by European or national regulators (follow-on actions), but we will not fail to pursue stand-alone actions, or to add stand-alone components to follow-on actions, whenever there is sufficient evidence of the infringement. In any case, the selection of a case presupposes:
- Prior analysis and drafting of a reasoned proposal to be presented to the Board by specialist lawyers; and
- Discussion at a Board meeting.
In the case of actions whose pursuit is only possible by obtaining substantial funding, a phase of presentation of a reasoned proposal to litigation funders will follow, who will promote their own due diligence process, using independent lawyers and economists.
Ius Omnibus Settlement Policy
The Board of Ius Omnibus approved this Settlement Policy applicable to all cases which it pursues in Court.
The publication of this Settlement Policy is meant to allow consumers to be aware, from the start, of the principles guiding any negotiations and possible settlements by Ius Omnibus. This should assist consumers to decide, for example, whether they wish to opt-out from or to intervene in the proceedings.
This Settlement Policy is made public also with the objective of increasing transparency and showing that any settlement will be negotiated in accordance with certain principles defined by Ius, beforehand.
Finally, this Settlement Policy will hopefully incentivize Defendants to settle their cases early, considering that postponing a transaction to a later a stage may have an impact on the terms that may be deemed acceptable by Ius Omnibus.
To this effect, Ius Omnibus has adopted the following general guiding principles for settlements.
General Guiding Principles
1. Ius Omnibus will always be open to settlement proposals and believes that, as a general rule, a decrease in the amount of the claims may be offset by a swifter conclusion of the case.
2. To the extent possible under the applicable law, settlements in consumer representative actions should always be subject to review and approval by the Court and Public Prosecutor. Such mechanisms provide an additional layer of security and assurance to consumers that the settlement will be appropriate and will duly protect their interests.
3. Ius will only submit settlements to the Court if it believes that they are the optimal result, at the given time and context, to defend consumers’ rights and interests.
4. A settlement implies, by definition, a compromise, the acceptance of a result which is not the most favourable result which could be obtained if the case were fully successful.
5. Settlements should only be entered into when the decrease in the most favourable result which could be obtained is outweighed by the advantages for the represented consumers arising from an earlier conclusion of the case and from the elimination of the risk of a less favourable outcome if the case is litigated to the end.
6. Ius’ activities are strictly not-for-profit, and settlements shall never include a reward or benefit to Ius.
7. As a rule, for a settlement to be accepted by Ius the court and Ius’ costs in pursuing a claim should be fully paid by the Defendant.
8. To the extent that the behaviour to be adopted by the Defendant is a direct result of Ius’ legal action and would not have occurred without it, as a rule, Ius will not accept settlements which do not include reimbursement of its costs in pursuing that claim. Exceptions to this rule will be considered in light of a case’s degree of complexity and the costs associated with its preparation, as well as of how early on the settlement is reached.
9. Ius’ costs include all expenses which were indispensable for the successful pursuit of the claim, such as, when applicable, legal fees, costs of economic reports, legal opinions, laboratory analysis, funding costs, etc.
10. The more time, effort and resources have been put into a case, the closer one is to a final ruling, and the greater the likelihood of a final ruling favourable to the represented consumers, the less Ius should be willing to compromise in settlement negotiations.
11. Each case is unique and may raise issues and features that are not present in others, and which may not fit well into predefined categories or scenarios. The principles set out in this Policy must be applied flexibly in a manner guided, first and foremost, by the protection of consumers’ interests and compliance with the law.
12. Ius’ goal is to reach settlements where the Defendant accepts to recognize its past behaviour, alter it and to act in accordance with the law. When applicable, Ius’ goal will also be to ensure that the Defendant pays the represented consumers their due compensation, directly or indirectly.
13. Ius’ flexibility in the negotiation of settlements will depend, above all, on its perception of the degree of risk that the Court may not agree with the entirety of the scope of the infringement as claimed by Ius (in its material, subjective and temporal scope), or that the Court may disagree in part with the remedies sought by Ius.
14. There are many ways to compensate damage caused to consumers, and to compensate society for the damage caused to diffuse or collective interests. To the extent allowed by law, considering the specific features of each case, and when proposed by the Defendant, Ius will ponder the adequacy of reaching a settlement providing, for example, for:
a) Defendants paying the global compensation, and the undistributed amount reverting back to the Defendant once the time limit for consumers to claim their share has expired;
b) Defendants not being required to pay a global compensation, and paying compensation only to consumers who ask for their share of the damages;
c) Defendants paying compensation in kind, in the form of Defendant’s products/services, or of other products/services, discounts or vouchers for future purchases of the Defendants’ products/services, or as credits in future invoices;
d) Defendants paying compensation to diffuse interests by providing funds for awareness campaigns, for environmental reinstatement, for the collective benefit of local communities, for the protection of injured interests by NGOs, etc.
15. A fundamental component of any settlement is the mechanism(s) by which represented consumers will be made aware of it. Ius’ intention is for Defendants to ensure an adequate dissemination of information concerning the settlement, enabling represented consumers to exercise their rights, notably by: sending letters or emails, including notices in invoices, placing notices on company websites and social media, publishing notices in newspapers and magazines, taking out adds in various media, purchasing targeted adds on social media networks, etc.
16. Unless ordered to do so by a Court, Ius will not receive and manage global compensations itself, favoring such management to be carried out by public authorities or by specialized entities.
17. Ius will always act to protect and preserve consumers’ interests at all times, and shall never act out of self-interest.
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