Westpac Class Action update
14 May 2019
High Court to determine the validity of common fund orders and value in administering justice in class actions.
On 12 October 2017, Shine Lawyers commenced a class action on behalf of persons (including superannuation funds) who have obtained insurance issued by Westpac Life on the recommendation of financial advisers at Westpac, St George Bank, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA or BT Advice. More than 80,000 people are part of the class.
The case is funded by litigation funding and a common fund order was made by Lee J that applied to all class members. Westpac filed an appeal against this order, which was heard by the Full Court of the Federal Court on 4 and 5 February 2019, in a joint sitting with the NSW Court of Appeal in the matter of BMW Australia Ltd v Owen Brewster 2018/00332812
On 1 March 2019, the Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed Westpac’s appeal, finding that common fund orders are legal and not unconstitutional.
Westpac filed an application for special leave to the High Court, challenging the Full Court’s decision as to the validity of common fund orders. Today, the High Court allowed Westpac’s application for special leave. No date has been set for the hearing of the appeal before the High Court.
“We welcome the decision of the High Court to determine Westpac’s appeal in relation to the very important issue of Common Fund Orders so that plaintiffs/applicants, group members and all interested stakeholders have a clear understanding of the position,” said Shine Lawyers’ National Special Counsel, Class Actions, Jan Saddler.
“Shine Lawyers believe that common fund orders in open class proceedings play an important part in protecting the interests of, and to ensure fairness for lead applicants and all group members.”
“Third-party litigation funding plays an important role in increasing access to justice for the prosecution of genuine claims by plaintiffs who would otherwise lack the resources to pursue a claim,” said Ms Saddler.
You can read the full decision here.
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