By virtue of LN 256 of 2012, the Collective Proceedings Act (Cap. 520 of the Laws of Malta) was brought into force with effect from 1 August 2012. This legislation is novel as it introduces group and representative actions within the Maltese procedural framework by allowing common claims to be pursued collectively by a class representative acting on behalf of the class members. A group action must necessarily be instituted and pursued by a representative plaintiff who has a personal claim that falls within the group of claims in the proposed collective action. Conversely, the plaintiff pursuer in representative actions could be either a registered consumer association or a constituted body as defined in the Act itself.
Furthermore, collective proceedings could be instituted in two modes; either as follow-on actions where an infringement decision has already been delivered by an adjudicating body or as stand alone actions which are relatively independent in nature as the alleged breach of law has not been the subject of a previous infringement decision. It is worth noting that the Act in question also provides for a pre-trial hearing. This preliminary phase serves as a safeguard against the proliferation of abusive or frivolous claims as courts are granted a degree of control in determining whether to decree the proposed proceedings as collective, thereby allowing their pursuance as such, or otherwise.