Sometimes a wrongdoing can affect more than one person. A class action is a legal case filed on behalf of a group by a single legal representative. Class actions were first introduced in 1992 to provide a more efficient way of dealing with group claims and to provide people with access to justice.
Class actions take place in the Federal Court and State Supreme Courts. For a class action to take place the case must have:
- 7+ people making claims against the same person/company
- the claims come from the same, similar or related circumstances
- the claims relate to at least one common issue of law or fact
Class actions in AustraliaIn Australia there have been a number of successful class actions. Types of class actions include:
- Claims by residents/businesses following natural disasters;
- Employee/union discrimination claims;
- Claims by creditors against directors/advisors of failed companies;
- Franchisee claims;
- Claims by investors in Managed Investment Schemes;
- Claims against trustees of Superannuation Funds;
- Telecommunication consumer claims; and
- Cartel claims.
Elsewhere in the world class actions have also provided settlements in a wide range of cases. The largest of these have tended to be in the financial and investment spaces.
In 2006 the collapsed US energy trading company, Enron, was subject to a US$7.4bn settlement on behalf of investors. The company disguised losses and mislead investors, leading to the biggest class action settlement in history.
See also: 10 Largest Class Actions in the World
Class actions are generally conducted on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. For other examples of cases we've worked on, see [our service page], https://www.shine.com.au/service/class-actions/.
Written by Shine Lawyers on May 10, 2016. Last modified: September 18, 2018.