What is a class action?
A class action (sometimes called a “representative proceeding”) is a legal proceeding in which one applicant pursues not only his or her own claim but also claims on behalf of a group of people who have similar or related claims against the same respondent. The applicant is called the “lead plaintiff” or “representative” and the people in the group are called “group members”.
Class actions are designed to make it easier and less expensive for people to get access to justice. Pursuing claims collectively will often be more economically worthwhile for individual claimants. The amount of money the claimants can receive is significantly higher, as the cost of the litigation is shared.
However, this proceeding will only be viable if enough people agree to participate and we are satisfied that their claims have sufficient value.
What happens if I register my interest?
Registering your interest does not affect your legal rights. It does not mean you are “locked in” to participate in the class action – it just enables Corrs to contact you to discuss your circumstances.
Registering your contact information does not cost anything and does not impose any additional obligations upon you.
Am I a group member of the Michel’s Patisserie class action?
If you are a former or current Michel’s Patisserie Franchisee you may be a group member. Corrs are currently finalising an appropriate group member definition. If you meet the criteria in that definition, then you will automatically be a group member of the class action unless you elect to opt out of the proceeding. Corrs will review registrations and information provided by those persons to assist you to understand whether or not you are a group member.
Will it cost me anything to be part of a class action?
No, there is no cost or fee associated with joining the class action and group members will not have any liability for fees or legal costs associated with the class action.
Augusta is proposing to fund this claim on a “no win, no fee” basis in accordance with the terms of a Litigation Funding Agreement (LFA), which will be monitored and managed by the Court. For those group members who enter into the LFA with Augusta, Augusta will pay all of your legal fees and disbursements (including fees for barristers, experts and consultants). If the class action is successful or a settlement is reached, Augusta will seek to recover the costs it has paid and other amounts (including a commission) to which it is entitled from any amount the Respondents are required to pay.
The commission payable to Augusta is outlined in the LFA. Corrs will not receive any commission based on the outcome of the case. If the claim is unsuccessful, group members are protected from having to pay any costs.
Is any of my money at risk?
No. Your money is not at risk by participating in the class action.
Usually in any legal proceeding, the unsuccessful party is required to pay the legal costs of the successful party. However, Augusta will obtain insurance which means that the representative will not be required to pay any of the Respondents’ legal costs if the class action is unsuccessful.
If the claim is unsuccessful, there will be no costs whatsoever payable by any group member. The funder will pay any adverse costs order.
Am I required to sign a Litigation Funding Agreement to be part of the Michel’s Patisserie Class Action?
No. Group members have no obligation to sign the LFA. As noted above, if you meet the group member definition then you will automatically be a group member unless you opt out.
However, in order for the class action to proceed, Augusta has requested a minimum claim value threshold be met. If this requirement is not met, the class action may not go ahead.
For this reason, we encourage all current and former Michel’s Patisserie franchisees to register their interest and sign the LFA so we may progress the class action.
If I don’t enter a Litigation Funding Agreement, will I be required to contribute anything?
If group members choose not to enter a LFA, it is important to note that if and when judgment is given in the proceedings (or a settlement agreement is reached) which provides for compensation to be paid to group members, the Court will likely make an order that some of the funds which would otherwise be used to pay that compensation be used to help pay the legal costs and disbursements which have been incurred in running the class action. In other words, this repayment is made out of money required to be paid by the Respondents.
In addition, the Court may also order that group members who have not entered into a LFA contribute equally to funding costs to those that have done so. This contribution is paid out of any compensation group members receive. Orders of this kind are referred to as “common fund orders”.
Will the information I provide by kept confidential?
Yes. We take your privacy and information security very seriously. Corrs and Augusta will not disclose your information to anyone else other than our officers, employees and agents, consultants and experts we engage throughout the matter. We will not use that information any purposes except for the claim against RFG.
What is my role in the class action?
At this stage, we need former and current franchisees to register so we can understand their circumstances. We may ask you to supply us with documents or other material that you have, or to participate in an interview with us. We may ask you to sign confidentiality agreements or other materials so that we can share further details of the claim with you.
Most group members will not have to actively participate in the proceeding – the proceeding will address the key issues in dispute by reference to a smaller number of representative individuals.
All group members will be bound by the Court’s decision unless they elect to opt out of the class action.
Corrs will keep group members updated on progress.
How long will legal proceedings take?
The time taken for the legal proceedings will depend on a number of factors, including how many documents are produced in the proceedings, what evidence is served and the tactics adopted by the respondent.
As litigation of any kind is inherently unpredictable, it is not possible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the time that might take for the class action to be fully resolved. As a rough guide, assuming the matter runs to a final hearing, we estimate the matter will take 18-24 months from the date of filing the claim.
Settlement of the class action can occur at any time (although, as outlined above, any settlement will require the Court’s approval before it can become final).
How is a class action settled?
A class action can settle at any time from commencement until the delivery of judgment or even after. Most class actions settle at some point.
Unlike conventional claims, a class action may not be settled or discontinued without approval from the Court. In order to obtain Court approval, the parties will usually need to persuade the Court that:
- the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable in the circumstances; and
- the proposed settlement has been undertaken in the interests of group members, and not just in the interests of the lead applicant and the respondents.
How much is my claim worth?
This will depend on your individual circumstances. Corrs is currently investigating the value of claims that are potentially available to franchisees of RFG. As noted above, we must identify a minimum total claim value in order to proceed.
When do I need to provide documents to Corrs?
We will ask you for your records in due course. We will contact you separately about this. In the meantime, you should maintain all records you have relating to the franchise you purchased, including any information you have about the loss or damage you may have suffered as a result of RFG.
If RFG contact me and offer to settle my claim, what should I do?
You should seek legal advice before signing any document provided to you by RFG or any related entity. If you sign the document without receiving legal advice, it may affect your claim in the class action.
If you have any questions, please contact us on +61 3 9672 3025.
We will post regular updates on this website and by email to registered persons.
If your contact details change at any time, please notify us.
You can contact us by calling the hotline on +61 3 9672 3025 or emailing us at [email protected]
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Corrs is Australia’s leading independent law firm. We provide exceptional legal services across the full spectrum of matters, including major transactions, projects and significant disputes, offering strategic advice on our clients’ most challenging issues.
Our class actions team has the depth of experience in class actions in all Australian jurisdictions (Federal and State) to assist clients successfully navigate this complex and multifaceted area.
We are specialists in managing the full range of class actions, including:
• securities fraud
• financial services claims
• employment claims
• data breach/privacy claims
• consumer protection claims
• anti-trust claims
• claims against auditors
• product liability claims
• franchisee claims
• claims by vulnerable groups
Read more about us here https://corrs.com.au/who-we-are
Established in 2013, Augusta Ventures Ltd (Augusta) is a leading financial institution engaged in providing capital for dispute resolution. With offices in London, Sydney, Melbourne & Toronto, our dynamic team of experts work with clients from across the world. Clients trust us because we’re open, honest and committed to delivering the best value and quality of service for everyone involved. We make the process of accessing funding straightforward, which allows law firms and clients to spend their time on what they do best.
Our unique business model comprising origination, diligence and monitoring functions means we’re able to move quickly and invest in high volumes of cases of any size. While the combination of our extensive high-quality legal team, business expertise and secure capital allows us to be a price leader, providing flexible and innovative funding solutions tailored to each client’s unique needs.
Augusta was one of the founding members and continues to be a member of the Association of Litigation Funders of England and Wales (ALF). ALF is an independent body comprised of funder members that self-regulate litigation funding in England and Wales. ALF has a Code of Conduct which sets the standards for all funder members of the ALF. The Code of Conduct contains capital adequacy requirements, which Augusta complies with.
Between 2014 and March 2019, Augusta has committed approximately £157 million (about A$290 million at the current exchange rate) to the funding of approximately 209 cases, including matters where proceedings have been filed or are to be filed in Australia.
Augusta Ventures (Australia) Pty Ltd (Augusta Australia) opened an office in Sydney in May 2017. Augusta Australia acts as a consultant to Augusta. It makes recommendations to Augusta in relation to the funding of potential cases in Australia and New Zealand and monitors cases once funding has been approved.
Since May 2017, Augusta has funded a variety of cases in Australia. Augusta’s committed capital for these cases is approximately $65 million and it has to date deployed approximately $21 million. Augusta is currently funding 9 class actions in Australia.
Employees of Augusta Australia who have day to day responsibility for monitoring cases are qualified Australian lawyers. They are required, under an Augusta Australia policy, to hold current practising certificates.
Read more about Augusta here https://www.augustaventures.com/
Read Augusta's Conflicts Policy
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