A class action lawsuit is one, or several, claimants (individuals who have suffered damages) bringing an action on behalf of numerous individuals with the same, or a similar, claim against the same defendants. Often, individual lawsuits of this kind are impractical as they are costly to pursue and the resulting award is unlikely to cover the legal expense. However, in a class action, the total of all the damages suffered by many may be very large.
At Church & Company, we act primarily for plaintiffs and have had substantial success in obtaining sizeable settlements. We advise on potential class actions and skillfully negotiate and settle or litigate such claims. We are committed to communicating regularly and thoroughly with our class members. Typically, we report monthly to class members on our website and post all relevant documentation from the action.
Contact our firm to arrange an initial consultation with a lawyer to discuss your legal matter.
Some representative class actions include the following:
- Cooper v. British Columbia (Registrar of Mortgage Brokers),  S.C.J. No. 76:
Acted for class of in excess of 3,000 people in claim in excess of $180 million against the Registrar of Mortgage Brokers and the Government of British Columbia.
- William Gerber v. John Brian Johnston, Canaccord Capital Corporation and Gary Stanhiser, Action No. S003549, Vancouver Registry:
Acted in a class action brought against Canaccord for recovery of approximately $9 million lost in a promotional fraud. Case was settled with Court approval after three years of litigation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What are the advantages of a class action over a conventional lawsuit?
Where the sum of the claims of a large number of plaintiffs is larger than the legal costs, a class action has the following advantages:
- Filing and legal fees are shared by all claimants, significantly reducing the cost to each individual;
- The members of the class have fewer obligations with respect to legal proceedings than they would typically have in a conventional action; and
- Generally, class actions are brought under contingency fee agreements, which tie the legal fees incurred to the plaintiffs' success.
2. How is a class action started?
Counsel commencing the action will attempt to define the class (group) of plaintiffs and select someone from among the class to act as a representative plaintiff. After plaintiffs' counsel files a Notice of Civil Claim with the court registry, a certification hearing will be held to determine if the claim should be certified and proceed as a class action. Following certification, the action will advance.
3. What is the certification process?
The test for certification before the Court under the Class Proceedings Act requires that:
- The pleadings disclose a cause of action;
- There is an identifiable class of two or more persons;
- The claims of the class members raise common issues, whether or not those common issues predominate over issues affecting only individual members;
- A class proceeding would be the preferable procedure for the fair and efficient resolution of the common issues; and
- There is an appropriate representative plaintiff.
4. What is a representative plaintiff?
A representative plaintiff is a class member who represents the entire class. The representative plaintiff participates in the legal proceedings and works with counsel to establish the case for the class.
5. What does counsel look for in selecting a representative plaintiff?
In selecting a representative plaintiff, counsel will consider someone who:
- Will fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class;
- Does not have, on the common issues, an interest that conflicts with those of the class; and
- Can advance the proceeding on behalf of the class.
6. How long does it take to resolve a class action?
Class actions are typically brought against large corporations who have substantial resources to defend against a claim. Class actions also usually involve complex issues of law. As such, litigation can take several years before settlement or trial. Typically, however, class involvement, during the common issues portion of the litigation, is minimal, other than to receive progress reports. Following resolution of the issues common to the class, individual class member damage assessments conducted under the Court's supervision will involve each class member.
CAUTION: The above constitutes general information regarding class action proceedings. Before taking any steps in a class action, legal advice specific to that action should be sought.