Articles

Class actions in Australia

Authors: Dougal Langusch and Julia Cantarella

Australia has a relatively liberal class action regime, which has led to class actions becoming a growing area of litigation.  A corporation is more likely to face a class action in Australia than anywhere else apart from the United States.

The major class action jurisdiction in the country is the Federal Court of Australia.  Between 2013 and 2015, the total number of class actions filed in the Federal Court increased from 18 to 33 per year.  Of the 33 class actions filed in the 12 months to June 2015, 16 relate to securities, financial products and investments.  The rest relate to natural disasters and events, public interest and human rights, alleged breaches of statutory duty and mass consumer claims.

Total settlement payouts in the 12 months to June 2015 were approximately $950 million across 12 class actions.  A significant proportion of that figure was accounted for by settlements of Victorian bushfires class actions, one of which more than doubled the previous highest settlement figure for an Australian class action.

Despite steady growth, however, the explosion of class action claims anticipated by some has not eventuated.

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