Up until now Class Action Litigation cases have been a thing that Americans do, with many of the epic cases portrayed in the movies. Think Erin Brockovich, where a California power company were accused of polluting a city’s water supply. This turned out to be one of the biggest class action lawsuits against a corporation in the history of America.
So, can we expect to see American style class action litigation cases with massive payouts in the uk?
Will we go crazy suing the big conglomerates because our drinks are too hot, or our sandwiches are not the right size? I don’t think so.
UK style class actions are something quite different, at least for the moment.
So what is a class action lawsuit?
Class action litigation gives the opportunity for a group (class) of people to sue large companies. Each member of the group must have a common grievance against the company for the courts to allow the action to be a “class” action.
Class Action in the UK
Fixed pricing and formed cartels are the focus of the changes made to Consumer Rights Act 2015, with a view to making it easier for groups of consumers to win compensation claims.
The “opt out” actions that have been introduced mean that everyone affected by the claim automatically a member of the “class” that is suing.
How does this changes things?
Strength in numbers is really the key, as consumers are “opted in” to the case automatically. This also means that consumers can get their money back with need to take any action themselves.
What about funding and costs?
Taking on a large company can be expensive, so it makes sense for people to share the cost of the litigation funding by joining together with other that have the same grievance. One solicitor dealing with the case will reduce the legal fees.
Awards and Compensation
A class action suit does not mean that you will receive any less compensation than if you had taken on the claim by yourself.
In a class action lawsuit, the court will make a ruling of how much each individual should receive in compensation and every member of the class should receive that amount.
How will this affect Companies?
This change in the law is good news for responsible businesses. Companies caught acting illegally in any way will be made for to pay the price. This will make way for those smaller and medium sized business that are always fighting the “big boys”.
How will we know claims are Genuine?
Now the law allows us to fight in numbers, how will it be policed to make sure all claims are genuine?
It comes down to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to decide whether the “class representative” is a true representation of anyone else that would want to sue the company.
So, what do you think? Is the introduction of the Class Action system a good thing for the UK? Tell us in the comments.