Class Actions Basics

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A class action allows many claimants having a common grievance bring a case against a common plaintiff. The people who wish to file legal form a group, which is known as a class in legal terms. In most cases, classes typically have a minimum of 20 members. However, there’s no upper limit when it comes to classes.

Class actions have certain benefits, such as promoting judicial economy and efficiency, and ensuring the adjudication process, is free and fair to the members of a class (claimants). If you’re considering a class action you should seek legal aid and that’s where Bartz law group comes in.

Prerequisites of Class Actions

According to Canadian Law, a class action must satisfy the following four prerequisites:

·         Numerosity;

·         Commonality;

·         Typicality, and

·         Adequacy of representation.

The law requires plaintiffs to prove, and not merely plead, each prerequisite. Consequently, courts are tasked with ensuring that the prerequisites are met.

1.   Numerosity

This requirement does not focus on the number of members of a class, as the name suggests. However, a class of fewer than twenty members is considered insufficiently numerous. Courts first determine whether litigating a case through a regular lawsuit is impractical before certifying a class action. In particular, courts put the following factors into perspective conducting an inquiry for a class action:

·         The difficulty of locating class members;

·          Size and complexity of litigating an individual claim;

·         The possibility of filing separate actions, and

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·          The types of relief sought.

2.    Commonality

Although all claims must touch on a common question of law or fact, courts do not require the legal questions and facts to be common to the members of the class. In simple language, slight factual differences between the claims filed cannot be used to defeat commonality. If there’s any contention, class representatives must demonstrate the existence of a question or fact that is common to the class.

The class member should prove commonality with specificity. That said, general allegations can fail the commonality requirement. Besides demonstrating the existence of a common claim, class members must prove that these claims arose similarly. Where injuries suffered by the plaintiffs are different, proving commonality can be difficult.

3.    Typicality

Typicality is used to determine if the claim of the class representative (lead plaintiff) is similar to that of a class. In other words, the interests, injuries, and suggested remedies brought by the lead plaintiff should be similar to those of other class members.

Class representatives are required to demonstrate that their claims and those of other members of the class are connected in the following ways:

·         Showing that the claims of the lead plaintiff and class members share similar essential characteristics;

·         Demonstrating that such claims result from the actions of one person–the defendant.

4.     Adequacy

Under the principle of adequacy, class representatives are required to demonstrate that they will represent all members of the class (whether present or absent) fairly and adequately. To satisfy adequacy, courts take the following measures:

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·         Try to establish whether the interests of the class and class representative conflict;

·         Whether the injuries in question are similar;

·         Whether there’s any disagreement between class members and the lead plaintiff;

·         Whether the lawyer handling the class action is qualified to represent the class competently.

After a class is certified, class representatives can cite any of the following reasons to prove that filing a class action is the best legal recourse for resolving the claim.

·         Bringing separate actions would inconvenience both the class members and the defendant;

·         The accused person (defendant) has refused to cooperate;

·         Filing a class action is the only practical way of solving the claim conclusively.

Effects of the Class Action

The members of a class should always be notified once certification comes through. Additionally, the members of a class should be educated about their rights. Notification and explanation of rights are typically done via mailed documents. Thereafter, class members have the following options:

1.    Remain in class and do nothing extra.

2.    Resign from the class and pursue private actions;

Failing to take any action means that the class member is entitled to the benefits that accrue to the class. However, you cannot file a separate action for the same claim. In other words, the results of a class action are final.

If class members opt out, they do not receive the benefits of the class action. However, they can file a separate fresh case for the same claim. Class members typically file separate actions when they feel that they’re likely to gain more if they file a separate action instead of participating in a class action.

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Class actions front the interests of a group of claimants. If you’re considering a class action, the best thing is to seek legal advice from a legal professional who specializes in class actions.

By chamsipirson chamsipirson

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