find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Growth in class actions puts corporates, firms on alert

Growth in class actions puts corporates, firms on alert

Peta Stevenson King Wood Mallesons

As the number of class actions in Australia increases, lawyers and their clients in a broad range of industries need to be aware of the potential for this type of lawsuit, a new report warns.

The Review: Class Actions in Australia 2014/2015 report, co-authored by King & Wood Mallesons partners Moira Saville and Peta Stevenson, found the number of class actions in Australia almost doubled in the past year.

In the 2014-15 financial year, 33 class action suits were launched, compared to 17 in the previous period.

Settlements also hit a record high of $950 million, of which over $800 million related to the Black Saturday class actions.

Co-author Ms Stevenson (pictured right) told Lawyers Weekly that a rise in litigation funding providers had supercharged the trend for class actions.

“In the past two years, as the number of litigation funders has increased, it means that when there is an unexpected event that occurs … there is now a much broader range of protagonists who are looking to get a role in resolving that dispute,” she said.

As a result, she suggested corporates – and the law firms representing them – needed to be aware of how class actions might affect their businesses.

In recent years, she believes a number of companies have been targeted by class actions that might not traditionally have believed themselves to be vulnerable, citing Bon Soy as an example.

“It's not the type of business that the company is in that might make them more susceptible; it's all about their approach to risk management within the company and the attractiveness of them as an entity for an action,” she said.

The report found the majority of claims related to securities, though environmental events, consumer protection and investment claims were also well represented.

“In this past 12 months there has still been a significant number of shareholder and other investment claims being brought, but we are seeing a move back towards more of the large group claims by groups of small retail investors or consumers who are seeking to vindicate their rights through the class action mechanism,” Ms Stevenson said.

From the claimant’s perspective, she also suggested more firms were becoming involved in bringing class actions, as opposed to the previous dominance of Slater & Gordon and Maurice Blackburn.

“People have seen that there is a role for increased competition amongst plaintiff law firms and there are now quite a number of firms bringing these actions on behalf of injured parties,” she said.

This has led to some corporates facing multiple class actions on the same matter, including most recently education provider Vocation, against whom three different firms are investigating actions.

“There is no formal mechanism [to prevent multiple actions in Australia],” Ms Stevenson said. “That's going to have to be something the courts will need to look at.”

Co-author, King & Wood Mallesons partner Moira Saville

 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Growth in class actions puts corporates, firms on alert
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jetski
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Consultation
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
IBA
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...