For several years, there has been discussion of the possible spread of US-style class actions to other countries, particularly in Europe.  Class actions in Canada have proven especially problematic for the pharmaceutical industry. Now comes news that Mexico’s Senate voted earlier this month to reform Mexican legal procedures to allow class actions for the first time in Mexican courts.

The bill was approved unanimously by senators in attendance, and now goes to the lower chamber, the Chamber of Deputies.  The chamber has been reportedly working on its own version of legislation to permit class actions, which would grant power to judges to allow class action cases. The mechanism involved in the Senate bill is an amendment of several existing civil procedure codes.

The Senate version would allow consumers to bring aggregated cases based on financial overcharging, environmental damage, or product defects.  Proponents cite “access to justice” principles and the possibility the collective actions will encourage better quality products and improved financial services. The bill would not permit class actions in any government-run industry.

The push for class actions follows a constitutional amendment opening the door to class actions. It requires any such actions be exclusively in the Mexican federal courts.