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New class action scheme enacted in WA

A new legislative class action scheme has been introduced in Western Australia, in what the state’s Attorney-General said will enhance access to justice.

user iconLauren Croft 06 September 2022 Big Law
New class action scheme enacted in WA
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Following the lead of other Australian states, new legislation has passed through Parliament and will enhance access to justice by introducing class actions for the first time in Western Australia.

The Civil Procedure (Representative Proceedings) Bill 2021 means that West Australians will now be able to bring class action claims, following recommendations from the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia’s 2015 final Representative Proceedings report.

The legislative class action procedure assists the plaintiff group and the defendant to resolve their dispute efficiently, reducing the cost of the litigation for the parties and the court.

 
 

While a mechanism for bringing a class action to the Supreme Court exists, the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia found it to be outdated, inherently uncertain, and silent on many procedural aspects of representative proceedings.

The regime will give access to the courts to those in the community who have been effectively denied justice because of the cost of commencing a legal action.

A legislative class actions federal scheme was first introduced nearly 30 years ago and has allowed those who have been wronged to gain access to justice. The new West Australian scheme is modelled after it, which has been substantially and successfully implemented in other Australian jurisdictions.

Attorney-General John Quigley said that many people in the state have a “very deserving case for compensation who are unable to access the courts, because they simply cannot afford to bring an action”.

“Without a strong and sustainable mechanism for bringing class actions, countless individuals will not see justice and their losses will go uncompensated. A similar regime has been substantially adopted in Victoria in 2000, New South Wales in 2011, Queensland in 2017, and Tasmania in 2019, and has stood the test of time,” he said.

“This regime will not only enhance access to justice by reducing the cost of court proceedings to the individual and improve the individual’s ability to access legal remedies, it will enable court resources to be used more efficiently.”