The Australian Federal class action regime is one of the world’s most liberal and plaintiff friendly. As a consequence of this, and our active litigation funding market, Australia is second only to the United States in respect of class action activity.
A recent study revealed that over the past 17 years, 22.4% of all Australian class actions have been product liability related.1 This trend is set to continue with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) fortifying existing consumer protection laws and giving rise to a broader array of possible avenues for class action litigation. The ACL is still relatively new, coming up to its second birthday. Relevantly, the ACL has placed more onerous obligations on manufacturers and suppliers with the introduction of mandatory reporting of product associated injury or illness, a broader test for bans and recalls and increased prescribed requirements for warranties against defects.
This year alone a number of large scale product liability class actions have taken place, the largest three of which involve Bonsoy soy milk, DePuy Hip Implants and Aspen Pharmacare.
Many other recent high profile class actions have been driven by the alleged failure of listed companies to comply with statutorily prescribed continuous disclosure obligations. As a consequence, companies are facing class action claims alleging that they have engaged in conduct that was misleading or likely to mislead.
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