Consumer Action Law Centre made a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into Class Action Proceedings and Third-Party Litigation Funders (Discussion Paper 85, June 2018) (ALRC Inquiry).
Class actions are an essential part of the consumer redress framework. Class actions provide an important means for people to band together to pursue justice when companies engage in widespread violations of the law. For this reason, we strongly support a facilitative regime for class actions. Such a regime should avoid counterproductive barriers that stop people from being able to exercise their rights.
Our submission to the ALRC Inquiry focuses on design principles for a proposed federal collective redress mechanism (Proposal 8-1). The design of any such scheme must build upon lessons from existing regulator remediation schemes, particularly in financial services.
We enclosed our submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s 2017 Inquiry into Litigation Funding and Group Proceedings, which makes recommendations on issues relevant to the ALRC Inquiry:
- the restriction on lawyers charging contingency fees should be removed;
- robust court oversight is important to protect litigants at certain process steps (for example, processes to ‘close’ the class) as well as settlement and distribution, but there should not be upfront barriers to initiating class actions such as class certification;
- litigation funding plays an important role in supporting class actions, but measures should be adopted to manage conflicts of interest and encourage funders to adopt common fund class action models; and
- the Commission should support a judicial power to allow a court to order cy près or public interest distributions of unclaimed damages in class actions.