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Class-action suits to be possible in broader range of cases, justice minister tells BMW victims

In a meeting held Monday with the victims of BMW vehicle fires, Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said the government would make class-action suits possible in a wider range of cases. Unlike the US and certain European countries, in Korea, class-action suits can only be filed in cases involving securities trading.

Under proposed revisions, Koreans would be able to file class-action suits in areas where there is a significant risk of repeated mass damage, Park told a group that included the victims of BMW fires. Others present included civic group representatives, people who had lost family members to chemicals used to disinfect humidifiers, and people whose personal information had been disclosed illegally.

Speaking at a policy meeting on expanding the scope of the law on class-action lawsuits, Park added that the procedures and criteria necessary to gain a court’s permission for a class-action suit would be improved.

Justice Minister Park Sang-ki (Yonhap)
Justice Minister Park Sang-ki (Yonhap)

“We plan to take steps to expand the scope of the law on class-action suits by proactively supporting the deliberation (of the revised bill) at the regular (session of the) National Assembly,” Park said.

In a class-action lawsuit, victims of wrongful acts by companies can win compensation without the need for separate trials and separate rulings.

In the wake of cases such as those of the humidifier disinfectants and the manipulation of emissions figures by Volkswagen, more people are calling for changes that would allow class-action lawsuits to be filed in a wider range of cases.

Multiple bills have been proposed that would expand the scope of class-action suits to include faulty manufactured goods, collusion among businesses, consumer protection in financial services, the protection of personal information and food hazards, among other business areas.

By Kim So-hyun (