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Class Action an option for litigants

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Recent developments in the Courts have confirmed that class actions are becoming a more common way for litigants to seek to have disputes determined by Courts. A class action is a lawsuit brought by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of a large group of others who have a common legal claim.  That common legal claim could be as simple as they have all suffered a similar loss by reason of the defendant’s actions.

In past times class actions have been less common. A reason for this is that there was a common law that existed against “champerty”. Champerty is the sharing of proceeds of a law suit by an outside party who has promoted or paid for the litigation.

However the High Court has since the case of Fostif given the green light to financial assistance being given by a third party to assist litigants to fund their cases.

There are many reasons why a class action may be the best way for you to have a dispute determined.

Firstly, the existence of multiple common disputes against a defendant or common defendants may mean that there is a corroboration of the evidence which is given concerning the conduct or acts of the defendants.  That corroboration of evidence may result in the Court giving greater weight to the plaintiffs evidence as a whole.

Secondly, if there are multiple plaintiffs then the financial burden can be shared between the plaintiffs and can result in enormous saving to litigants given that the cost of litigation is so high, particularly in Supreme or Federal Court matters.

Thirdly, where there are multiple plaintiffs there is a greater likelihood that the proceeding can be settled earlier due to a defendant wanting to resolve issues which may have a significant impact on its balance sheet.

If you have a dispute which you share in common with others against a defendant consider whether a class action may be the appropriate way in which to seek to have your dispute determined.

For more information about our experience in acting in class actions please contact one of our Dispute Resolution & Litigation lawyers.

Author:  Mary Nemeth

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