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Class Actions: What you need to know

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 action graphic

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 Australia are conducted in an opt-out model. This means that all potential claimants become members of the class action whether they intended to participate or not. These members are bound by the judgment of the court or settlement unless they opt-out. You will be notified if you are involved in a class action.

Class actions in Australia

In 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.

In March 2016 Shine Lawyers and Maurice Blackburn reached a conditional agreement with Johnson & Johnson and DePuy International to settle the DePuy ASR hip class action for $250 million, subject to court approval. For more information, see the DuPuy class action.

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,

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: March 13, 2018.

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  • mick carr wrote:

    Re mount emerald wind farm has the go ahead/the value of property has dropped 20/25% in this area the wind farm developers stated no loss of property values would accure would this be a case for a class action
    thanks mick carr

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Mick, thanks for getting in touch. The best person to speak to about this would be a member of our New Client Team. To receive a call back, enter your details here:

  • Dorelle Downs wrote:

    Hi, I am wondering if redress from the Qld Govt for past Forced Adoption policies would be a case for a class action. I know there was something similar happening in Victoria.
    Dorelle Downs

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Dorelle, I would recommend speaking to a member of our New Client Team as they will be able to give you the best information. To receive a call back to discuss your options, enter your details here:

    • Shane Blackwell wrote:

      Agreed! I’d like to be involved with that

      • Lesley Mitchell wrote:

        So would I.

  • Denise Hammond wrote:

    I have suffered ongoing complications after having the vaginal mesh implanted.
    The implant was inserted in about December year 2006- 2007.
    I have had ongoing continence issues ever since.
    Been recieving ongoing treatment from my local Medical Practice at Nambour Medial Clinic and ongoing referrals and treatment by Dr Robin Boston of Caloundra.
    Recently treated for ongoing bladder infection at Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
    Could you please advise what steps I need to take to join this class action?

  • Brenda wrote:

    I want to start a civil suit against the province or the federal government for the sterilization of me and my native women they don’t want us to have more kids

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Brenda, thanks for getting in touch. We’ll need more information to help determine the best course of action. A member of our New Client Team will be able to gather more details, talk through the services we offer and let you know if we can help. Contact details are here:

  • Anne Kohnson wrote:

    I am a parent at an independent school where the principal is a law unto herself and the chair of the board covers up her bullying, discrimination and abuse of power on a regular basis. There are at least 30 parents, teachers, support staff and many children who have been or are being affected. Can Shine lawyers help with this sort of thing?

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Anne, thanks for getting in touch. We’ll need more information to help determine the best course of action. A member of our New Client Team will be able to gather more details, talk through the services we offer and let you know if we can help. Contact details are here:

  • Jason Evans wrote:

    The Victorian Ombudsman recently released its report into Expulsions from Victorian state schools –

    There are numerous case studies that point to a breach of human rights and discrimination in this report. Could this constitute a case for a class action?

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Jason, thanks for getting in touch. The best person to speak to about this would be a member of our New Client Team. To receive a call back, enter your details here:

  • Karyn williams wrote:

    I was adopted in 1968, l was a ward of the state for 4 months. Basically the adoption practises back then was appalling, my adoption papers have many flaws, l have suffered bpd my whole life due to my family being handed a child with basically no follow up and support from government departments. I received a certicate a few years back from australian government with an apology for wrongful adoption practise back then. I believe there should be some compensation to the damage they left behind for most adoptees from 1960’s to early 1970’s. Do you think this could be a class action case.

  • Cheryl Wilkinson wrote:

    Ive had constant UTI’s since having a Sling put in place. I had an operation to have it removed and all the urologist could find was where the sling had been attached. The body of the sling has disappeared.

  • Elvira Bakket wrote:

    I contacted you more than a year ago about the mesh class action.
    I have since moved back to NZ fo family reasons.can I still be included as I had over dozen operations fir this problem

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Elvira, thanks for getting in contact. I have passed on your query to the class action team who will get in contact with you shortly.

  • Johan Hurter wrote:

    The Queensland Department of Environment is a failed entity grabbing money from whoever it can without providing adequate protection for the environment for which it has been created. It has just become a money grabbing scheme to justify the positions of non-essential staff. Since 1974 it has taken money from individuals for so-called native animal keeping without even having a database for what is being kept in Queensland. It has also forced 1000’s of people to fill in movement advice’s and pay for licence fees without having done anything in the sector of wildlife keeping. Can the state and minister be sued by the people for mall practise and failing to do its duty?

  • Frances Smith wrote:

    Is there a class action for mothers of forced adoption in progress? If not there should be.

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Frances thanks for reaching out to us, we do have a team that are experts that will be able to answer your question. A member of our New Client Team will be able to discuss further and if we can help. Contact details are here:

      • Lesley Mitchell wrote:

        Shine Lawyers, should adoptees and mothers of forced adoption be two separate class actions, or one? Is either one currently being actioned? If not, I think mothers and adoptees are ready. Once I know if it should be separate or combined, I will ask an expression of interest of stakeholders.

        • Shine Lawyers wrote:

          Hi Lesley, we do have a team that are experts in class actions. A member of our New Client Team will be able to discuss your situation and if we can help. Contact details are here:

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