Class Actions

Class Actions

Class Actions

Australia is now a globally recognised class action jurisdiction. Class actions present a significant business risk for Australian companies and significant business opportunity for litigation funders. Claims relating to security disclosures, investor disclosures and anti-competitive conduct as well as mass consumer claims have proven to be fertile ground for class actions. 

Being a party to a class action can be a long and fraught process. It is a distraction from business as usual, involves a large investment in company time and cost and usually poses a threat to reputation. Class actions are high stakes litigation and this is reflected in the fact that most class actions settle before trial; the risks being too high for either the class or the defendants to run the case.

Corrs has the expertise and depth of experience in class actions in Federal and State jurisdictions to ably navigate the increasingly sophisticated class actions space. Our focus is on providing our clients with a comprehensive defence strategy which appropriately manages the commercial and reputational risks associated with being a party to a class action as well effectively defending the claims made. 

Our Experts

Annette Hughes

Annette Hughes

Consultant Location Melbourne Profile
Brad Woodhouse.jpg

Brad Woodhouse

Partner Location Sydney Profile
Chris Pagent.jpg

Chris Pagent

Partner Location Sydney Profile
Ian Dallen.jpg

Ian Dallen

Partner Location Sydney Profile
James Whittaker.jpg

James Whittaker

Partner Location Sydney Profile
Kirsty Sutherland.jpg

Kirsty Sutherland

Partner Location Perth Profile
Mark Wilks.jpg

Mark Wilks

Partner Location Sydney Profile
Michael Kimmins.jpg

Michael Kimmins

Partner Location Brisbane Profile
LEWISStanwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Stan Lewis

Partner Location Sydney Profile

Our Experience

Pan Pharmaceuticals

Corrs acted for the Commonwealth of Australia in the defence of the Pan Pharmaceuticals class action. The class action was one of the largest claims ever brought against the Commonwealth and centred on alleged negligence by a Federal Regulator as well as alleged misfeasance in public office by individuals employed by the Regulator.

The legal principles were complex and their application to a Federal Regulator, and its staff, were largely untested in Australia. Corrs developed and implemented a strategy that led to a commercially successful settlement of the class action at a private out-of-court mediation without any admissions as to liability.

The class action, which comprised 162 members seeking economic loss and aggravated damages, stemmed from the corporate collapse of Pan Pharmaceuticals in April 2003 after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) ordered a recall of its products and suspended its licence to manufacture therapeutic goods.

The Commonwealth was alleged to have been negligent because of the manner in which the TGA performed its regulatory functions, a number of TGA officers were alleged to have engaged in misfeasance in public office (a personal tort centred on willful misconduct, or reckless indifference, in the exercise of government powers) and the Commonwealth was alleged to have been vicariously liable for the officers conduct. The case was legally and factually complex, requiring management of Government obligations and individual sensitivities.

Corrs worked quickly and efficiently, ahead of a private out-of-court mediation, to limit the scope of the claims against the Commonwealth (successfully striking out large parts of the class action claim), to ensure that the remaining causes of action were appropriately particularised (given the extremely serious nature of the claim – especially as against the individual officers) and to successfully challenge, and have withdrawn, the key expert evidence that the class was seeking to rely upon.

The settlement reached at the mediation was without any admissions as to liability and involved the payment of $67.5m into a distribution fund from which payments could be made to each of the 162 class members. The settlement was formally approved by the Federal Court (a necessary legal requirement for any Federal Court class action settlement) and the approval judgment is one of the most recent judicial decisions in Australia on the factors that are required to be established to obtain Federal Court approval of a class action settlement.

The total quantum of the claims made by the 162 members of the class remains subject to confidentiality, although the Australian Financial Review noted the following in respect of the class action settlement (after it had been approved by the Federal Court):

“It [referring to the class action] was not a lay down misere. The pleadings of the lead applicant and two sample members show each claimed between $1 million and $8.5 million, suggesting the settlement was a small fraction of the total claimed.”

More

Rivercity class action - Claims involving $2 billion losses on major Australian Infrastructure Project

Corrs is advising Leighton Contractors Pty Limited, the market leader in the Australian construction market, in an investor class action which has been brought in the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, arising out of the financial failure of the RiverCity Motorway Project (RCMP) in Brisbane, Queensland.

The core issue at stake is whether the forecasting of traffic usage and toll charges in respect of the Clem 7 tunnel (forming part of the RCMP) was deficient and, if so, who was to blameCorrs is representing firm anchor client, Leighton which was a member of the consortium which successfully tendered for the design, construction and operation of the Clem 7 tunnel. We have recently been successful in extracting Leighton from two of the three actions and therefore the claim value has dropped from in AU$1 billion plus to circa AU$200 million in the class action.

More

Soy milk class action

Corrs represented Japanese food distributor, Muso Co Ltd, in the defence of the largest personal injury class actions in Australian litigation history.

Muso, together with the manufacturer and distributor of Bonsoy, a soy milk product, were sued by a Plaintiff on behalf of a class in respect of thyroid diseases allegedly sustained or exacerbated as a result of the consumption of iodine used in the formulation of that product.

Claims were made under both Australian and Japanese law and involved cross-border issues and expert evidence on matters of foreign law and changes causation questions.

More

The Trust Company (Nominees) Limited

Corrs is representing The Trust Company Limited (now owned by Perpetual Limited) in a substantial class action commenced by retail investors in debentures issued by the failed lender, Australian Capital Reserve.

The proceedings focus on the scope of the duties of trustee companies under Chapter 2L of the Corporations Act in circumstances where there are no reported decisions to provide guidance to trustees generally.

More

Our Thinking

Getting the Deal Through - Securities Litigation 2017

Corrs contributes to ‘Getting the Deal Through: Securities Litigation’, a comparative guide to the mechanisms and procedures surrounding securities litigation across 13 jurisdictions worldwide.

More Download

“Common fund” litigation funding model approved by the Full Federal Court – with strings attached

On 26 October 2016, the Full Court of the Federal Court allowed an application for a “common fund order” in a class action for the first time.

More

Getting the Deal Through - Securities Litigation 2015

Corrs wrote the Australian chapter in this edition of "Getting the Deal Through - Securities Litigation," a comparative guide to the mechanisms and procedures surrounding securities litigation across the 13 jurisdictions worldwide.

More Download

Litigation funding - A world gone mad or sensible reform? The Productivity Commission’s proposed reforms

Timely and affordable access to justice is critical - Is litigation funding the answer?

More

Australian product liability trends: Class actions & litigation funding

The Australian Federal class action regime is one of the world’s most liberal and plaintiff friendly. As a consequence Australia is second only to the US in respect of class action activity.

More Download

Will the Senate Committee report on ASIC’s performance be the trigger for class actions against financial planners?

AFSL holders could find themselves being litigated against for failures in management oversight and internal compliance programs.

More

Late payment fees - The latest target for class actions - Are you at risk?

Earlier this month the Federal Court gave a boost to several class actions against banks.

More

A class above - The emergence of Australia as a prime class action jurisdiction

There are few better places than Australia in which to bring a class-action, with 2013 already a bumper year for settlements and funding arrangements.

More Download

Adding fuel to the litigation bonfire

How will Australia address the emergence and growth of litigation funding?

More

Keeping an eye on class actions

Class actions are growing in Australia. We’re hardly in the American league, but we’re seeing some of their options emerging, like litigation funding and disclosure based issues. The market is changing, so our strategies need to as well.

More

Our Experience

Pan Pharmaceuticals

Corrs acted for the Commonwealth of Australia in the defence of the Pan Pharmaceuticals class action. The class action was one of the largest claims ever brought against the Commonwealth and centred on alleged negligence by a Federal Regulator as well as alleged misfeasance in public office by individuals employed by the Regulator.

The legal principles were complex and their application to a Federal Regulator, and its staff, were largely untested in Australia. Corrs developed and implemented a strategy that led to a commercially successful settlement of the class action at a private out-of-court mediation without any admissions as to liability.

The class action, which comprised 162 members seeking economic loss and aggravated damages, stemmed from the corporate collapse of Pan Pharmaceuticals in April 2003 after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) ordered a recall of its products and suspended its licence to manufacture therapeutic goods.

The Commonwealth was alleged to have been negligent because of the manner in which the TGA performed its regulatory functions, a number of TGA officers were alleged to have engaged in misfeasance in public office (a personal tort centred on willful misconduct, or reckless indifference, in the exercise of government powers) and the Commonwealth was alleged to have been vicariously liable for the officers conduct. The case was legally and factually complex, requiring management of Government obligations and individual sensitivities.

Corrs worked quickly and efficiently, ahead of a private out-of-court mediation, to limit the scope of the claims against the Commonwealth (successfully striking out large parts of the class action claim), to ensure that the remaining causes of action were appropriately particularised (given the extremely serious nature of the claim – especially as against the individual officers) and to successfully challenge, and have withdrawn, the key expert evidence that the class was seeking to rely upon.

The settlement reached at the mediation was without any admissions as to liability and involved the payment of $67.5m into a distribution fund from which payments could be made to each of the 162 class members. The settlement was formally approved by the Federal Court (a necessary legal requirement for any Federal Court class action settlement) and the approval judgment is one of the most recent judicial decisions in Australia on the factors that are required to be established to obtain Federal Court approval of a class action settlement.

The total quantum of the claims made by the 162 members of the class remains subject to confidentiality, although the Australian Financial Review noted the following in respect of the class action settlement (after it had been approved by the Federal Court):

“It [referring to the class action] was not a lay down misere. The pleadings of the lead applicant and two sample members show each claimed between $1 million and $8.5 million, suggesting the settlement was a small fraction of the total claimed.”

Rivercity class action - Claims involving $2 billion losses on major Australian Infrastructure Project

Corrs is advising Leighton Contractors Pty Limited, the market leader in the Australian construction market, in an investor class action which has been brought in the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, arising out of the financial failure of the RiverCity Motorway Project (RCMP) in Brisbane, Queensland.

The core issue at stake is whether the forecasting of traffic usage and toll charges in respect of the Clem 7 tunnel (forming part of the RCMP) was deficient and, if so, who was to blameCorrs is representing firm anchor client, Leighton which was a member of the consortium which successfully tendered for the design, construction and operation of the Clem 7 tunnel. We have recently been successful in extracting Leighton from two of the three actions and therefore the claim value has dropped from in AU$1 billion plus to circa AU$200 million in the class action.

Soy milk class action

Corrs represented Japanese food distributor, Muso Co Ltd, in the defence of the largest personal injury class actions in Australian litigation history.

Muso, together with the manufacturer and distributor of Bonsoy, a soy milk product, were sued by a Plaintiff on behalf of a class in respect of thyroid diseases allegedly sustained or exacerbated as a result of the consumption of iodine used in the formulation of that product.

Claims were made under both Australian and Japanese law and involved cross-border issues and expert evidence on matters of foreign law and changes causation questions.

The Trust Company (Nominees) Limited

Corrs is representing The Trust Company Limited (now owned by Perpetual Limited) in a substantial class action commenced by retail investors in debentures issued by the failed lender, Australian Capital Reserve.

The proceedings focus on the scope of the duties of trustee companies under Chapter 2L of the Corporations Act in circumstances where there are no reported decisions to provide guidance to trustees generally.

Our Thinking

Getting the Deal Through - Securities Litigation 2017

Corrs contributes to ‘Getting the Deal Through: Securities Litigation’, a comparative guide to the mechanisms and procedures surrounding securities litigation across 13 jurisdictions worldwide.

“Common fund” litigation funding model approved by the Full Federal Court – with strings attached

On 26 October 2016, the Full Court of the Federal Court allowed an application for a “common fund order” in a class action for the first time.

Getting the Deal Through - Securities Litigation 2015

Corrs wrote the Australian chapter in this edition of "Getting the Deal Through - Securities Litigation," a comparative guide to the mechanisms and procedures surrounding securities litigation across the 13 jurisdictions worldwide.

Litigation funding - A world gone mad or sensible reform? The Productivity Commission’s proposed reforms

Timely and affordable access to justice is critical - Is litigation funding the answer?

Australian product liability trends: Class actions & litigation funding

The Australian Federal class action regime is one of the world’s most liberal and plaintiff friendly. As a consequence Australia is second only to the US in respect of class action activity.

Will the Senate Committee report on ASIC’s performance be the trigger for class actions against financial planners?

AFSL holders could find themselves being litigated against for failures in management oversight and internal compliance programs.

Late payment fees - The latest target for class actions - Are you at risk?

Earlier this month the Federal Court gave a boost to several class actions against banks.

A class above - The emergence of Australia as a prime class action jurisdiction

There are few better places than Australia in which to bring a class-action, with 2013 already a bumper year for settlements and funding arrangements.

Adding fuel to the litigation bonfire

How will Australia address the emergence and growth of litigation funding?

Keeping an eye on class actions

Class actions are growing in Australia. We’re hardly in the American league, but we’re seeing some of their options emerging, like litigation funding and disclosure based issues. The market is changing, so our strategies need to as well.

Our Experts

Annette Hughes

Annette Hughes

Consultant Melbourne +61 3 9672 3506
Brad Woodhouse.jpg

Brad Woodhouse

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6859
Chris Pagent.jpg

Chris Pagent

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6162
Ian Dallen.jpg

Ian Dallen

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6243
James Whittaker.jpg

James Whittaker

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6667
Kirsty Sutherland.jpg

Kirsty Sutherland

Partner Perth +61 8 9460 1620
Mark Wilks.jpg

Mark Wilks

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6159
Michael Kimmins.jpg

Michael Kimmins

Partner Brisbane +61 7 3228 9377
LEWISStanwebsitegreySIZEDTH.jpg

Stan Lewis

Partner Sydney +61 2 9210 6955