A class action can bring to account a wrongdoer who causes widespread harm. If the case is successful, the Court can fairly divide the compensation amount between the affected group.
The modern class action was said to have first kicked off in 1966 in the United States, but Australia hasn’t always had the ability to take this approach. An amendment to the Federal Court of Australia Act in 1992 enabled class actions to be possible in Australia. Since its introduction, there have been 329 class actions filed in Australian Courts. Below are the three largest class actions in Australia’s history to date.
- SP AusNet/Utility Services Group -This class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the 10,000 survivors of Victoria’s 2009 bushfires and the 119 people who died. SP AusNet and Utility Services Group were found responsible for a faulty electricity cable which caused the start of the fire. In 2014 AU$500 million was paid to those effected.
- Australian Banks - There have been 10 class actions against Australian banks in relation to the fees they charged their customers. These banks included Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac and NAB. They were accused for syphoning AU$400 million from customers. In 2015, ANZ won leave to appeal the decision that their late fees were too high to the High Court of Australia. This is an ongoing class action.
- Sigma Pharmaceuticals- Sigma was accused of engaging in deceptive conduct by 600 shareholders. In 2012 the settlement was approved for AU$57.5 million.
If you have been a victim of a wrong doing, you may be eligible for compensation. If the wrong doing has affected more than one person then you may be able to join a class action. Shine Lawyers provide legal services on a No Win No Fee basis and can help you find out if you have a claim for compensation.
Written by Shine Lawyers on January 11, 2016. Last modified: April 17, 2019.