Winter is coming: Class action battles surge to new record

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Setting a new record, at least 60 class actions were filed in Australia between 1 July 2020 and 30 April 2021. With two months to go in the review period for KWM's The Review – Class Actions in Australia 2020/2021, this is already the most class actions in a financial year.

Our latest statistics also show:

  • Jurisdictional preferences: an increase in the number (and percentage) of class actions commenced in the Supreme Court of Victoria, which was expected following passage of unique Victorian class action legislation permitting group costs orders that remunerate the plaintiff's solicitors with a percentage of the total amount of any award or settlement obtained by group members.
  • Types of claims: a continuing increase in the number of consumer law claims accompanied by a decrease in securities claims filed, with a continued gradual increase in the number of employment claims filed.
  • Litigation funding: a decrease in the percentage of claims where the representative plaintiff (and group) is funded by a litigation funder.

Class action law and practice in Australia continues to evolve, with key recent developments including:

  • the High Court confirming that the courts enjoy a broad discretion when determining whether one or more competing class actions should proceed (see our alert here)
  • the December 2020 report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services into Litigation funding and the regulation of the class action industry, making 31 recommendations to reform the class action system (see our alert here). We eagerly await the Federal Government's response.

The Review 2020/2021 will provide the latest statistics and developments in class action law and practice as well as insights in the health, cyber and insurance sectors and more.

Faced with thousands of complex potential claims from creditors, and a soon-to-expire letter of comfort, the liquidators of Forex Capital Trading Pty Ltd (in liq) sought creative and efficient relief in the Federal Court of Australia to implement an expedited adjudication process to adjudicate and admit these claims without creditors having to individually establish causation for their loss or damage: Woodhouse (liquidator), in the matter of Forex Capital Trading Pty Ltd (in liq) [2022] FCA 600.

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