A Representative Action commonly referred to as a Class Action enables 7 or more claimants to bring an action against the same person or company where the dispute is common.
There are no limitations as to what actions can be brought.
Recently, the Courts have seen a trend of actions in areas such as product liability, medical negligence, financial and securities and immigration.
To be classified as a Class Action, the following requirements, as set out in Section 33C (1) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) must be met:-
- Seven (7) or more persons who have claims against one or more individuals or corporate bodies;
- The claims must be in respect of the same, similar or related circumstances; and
- The claims must give rise to a substantial common issue of law or fact.
In cases where there are less than 7 people who all have the same dispute, with leave of the court, you are still able to run the matter as a Class Action.
One of the main advantages of being in a Class Action is the costs. All costs are shared equally amongst members. As the saying goes – ‘the larger the class, the cheaper the costs’. Various other benefits include the support and encouragement offered from other members of the class, reducing the potential for adverse costs orders being made, minimising risks involved and the benefit of a section in the Federal Court Act to follow for procedure. However, the greatest incentive of all is that as a class, your proceedings are stronger.
Some disadvantages noted with Class Actions are the expenses incurred to advertise, as required under section 33x of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth), Claimants are unable to settle or discontinue the Class Action without leave of the court and in some circumstances, contact with the Solicitor is kept at a minimum to allow him/her to discuss matters with all members of the class equally.
Further, at the time Judgment is provided, all Claimant’s are identified in the Judgment, unless with leave of the court. Following on from this, not only does Judgment bind those within the Class, but also persons who may have the same interests but were not formally included in the Class.
If you think you may have a potential Class Action or would like further information, please contact our office on 1800 621 071 or use our Online Enquiry Form to send us your details.