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Filing a class action is subject to some limitations. The first limitation is that only consumers have standing. Any consumer may file a class action personally, through a consumers’ association or a committee of consumers established expressly to file that class action. In practice, almost all class actions have so far been filed through and financed by consumers’ associations. Class actions are not cost effective for consumers.
A notable exception is the De Zordo vs. Quadrifoglio class action. In this case, an individual consumer filed a class action personally against a private company charged with cleaning the streets of Florence. The plaintiff complained that the defendant breached its contract with the municipality (and therefore with the citizens of Florence at large) on he occasion of an exceptional and unprecedented snowfall. However, Mrs. De Zordo was not a common consumer. She was a member of the city council, who was obviously more interested in the political return of her judicial initiative than in recovering non-pecuniary damages caused by the snowfall.
The second limitation to the availability of class actions is that they may be filed only for certain infringements: infringements of contractual rights, product liability, unfair commercial practices, and infringements of antitrust law. Recently, class actions have also been made available in cases of liability of providers of services. For all other infringements, class actions are not available. For example, class actions may not be filed in case of environmental liability. It is disputed as to what extent class actions may be filed in case of fraud on financial markets.