Legal assistance to consumers

Even though the Consumer Ombudsman does not usually deal with individual disputes, it may assist consumers in court in cases that have precedent value or are otherwise important in the general interest of consumers. 

The Consumer Ombudsman may, at its discretion, assist a consumer in resolving an individual dispute, if its resolution carries a significant impact on the interpretation of the law and the general interest of consumers, or in instances where a business is not compliant with the recommendations of the Consumer Disputes Board.

If the Consumer Ombudsman decides to assist a consumer, it will carry the risk for the legal costs.

In addition to individual assistance cases, the Consumer Ombudsman can help consumers in collective complaints and class actions.

Collective complaint

What is a collective complaint, and when is it applicable?

In a collective complaint, the Consumer Ombudsman can obtain a decision-in-principle from the Consumer Disputes Board in cases where several consumers have a similar claim against a particular trader, and the matter can be resolved by a single decision.

A collective complaint is suitable in cases where several consumers have purchased from a particular business

  • a product with the same design or manufacturing error
  • a service that does not match what has been agreed.

A collective complaint can also be used when a business has concluded an agreement on unreasonable terms with several consumers.

Class action

What is a class action and who can bring it?

A class action is a process defined in the Act on Class Actions, in which a claim by a particular consumer group against a specific trader is heard as a single case in a court of law. The court process is meant to find a solution that benefits all consumers who have joined the group.

Only the Consumer Ombudsman can file for class action and represent the plaintiffs.

The class action primarily serves as a preventive measure. It is intended as a last resort option when it has not been possible to resolve the matter through negotiations between the Consumer Ombudsman and the business.

The Consumer Ombudsman bears the risk for legal costs if the class action is lost.