Constitutional Amendment Pertaining to Collective Lawsuits

April 16, 2010
Constitutional Amendment Pertaining to Collective Lawsuits

Mexico’s Lower House of Congress has approved a constitutional reform, which was previously approved by Mexico’s Federal Senate, which adds a third paragraph to article 17 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States establishing a constitutional level known as “collective actions” in Mexico. The paragraph that will be added to the Constitution contains the following text: “Laws that regulate those actions and procedures for the adequate protection of collective rights and interests, as well as measures that may be taken by individuals and their organization for the defense of same.” The reform allows for collective actions and will provide guidelines for its regulation and procedural implementation in Mexico, as has been done in other countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela. Collective actions in Mexico will now be parallel to those called “class actions” that exist in other countries under the Anglo-Saxon or “common law” tradition, which seek to aggregate the rights of a group of persons for their defense through collective actions and procedures. The various rights of members of a group will be considered collective in a strict sense for individuals in a collective group according to a determination of the propriety of a collective action, and whether or not common circumstances exist to permit linking all the individuals together for their common protection or defense. In Mexico, the constitutional recognition of class actions will have an impact in various areas such as consumer protection, environmental protection, economic competition, urban development, Mexican cultural property and public safety, among others. This is a far-reaching reform, but it will not enter into force until two-thirds of the legislatures of Mexico’s states have approved the reform and such has been signed by Mexico’s president and published in the Official Journal of the Federation. Upon any future approval, Mexico’s Congress will need to adopt new regulations accommodating this new constitutional precept.

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