Class Actions

Class actions are an established and specialised part of the Australian legal landscape.

A company is more likely to face a major class action in Australia than in any other country apart from the United States. A plaintiff-friendly class action regime, an increasingly entrepreneurial legal market and an active (and largely unregulated) third party funding market have all contributed to this position.

If a class action is threatened or commenced against your organisation, it is important to resist knee‑jerk reactions and to instead engage in an objective assessment of risk from day one. As a preventative measure, it is also important to be conscious of the types of conduct that may give rise to class action risk in your business, and to ensure appropriate systems are in place to minimise the risk of that conduct occurring. It is also prudent to have plans in place so that, should something goes awry, the response can be swift and based on an objective assessment of risk.

How can we help?

Addressing the issues that arise in the course of a class action requires specialised knowledge and expertise. Entrusting the defence of a class action to lawyers who are not class action experts involves unnecessary risk.

Dealing with large and complex class actions

The breadth and depth of our experience gives our team the practical knowledge and insights to deal with the unique legal, strategic and reputational issues that can arise when a class action is threatened or filed.

Helping our clients deal with the big picture

A class action (whether filed or threatened) raises a broad range of legal, commercial and strategic issues that extend well beyond the litigation itself. Successfully navigating the non-legal issues is often just as important (if not more so) as securing an acceptable outcome on the legal issues.

Steering the direction

Class actions practice has changed substantially in recent years as the entrepreneurial methods of class action lawyers and funders test the boundaries of the class actions regime. We are at the forefront of the discussion and debate, representing the collective interests of clients in court and industry committees, making submissions to law reform bodies and through commentary at conferences and in publications.

Experience

Shareholder class actions

Acted for Aristocrat Leisure Limited in the first shareholder class action to be brought to trial in Australia. Since that we time we have acted for defendants in numerous other shareholder class actions, including Brambles, QBE, AWB and CIMIC.

Consumer class actions

Defended Westpac Banking Corporation in class actions relating to exception fees charged by most of Australia's retail banks and in a class action brought on behalf of customers of Westpac financial planners who purchased insurance policies from Westpac Life. Defended NAB in the Get Your Super Back class action. We also acted in a threatened class action in respect of telecommunications network coverage.

Products class actions

Acted for Ford in the defence of a class action raising allegations about defects in the power shift transmission in certain Ford vehicles. Defended Nissan in the high-profile class action proceedings relating to alleged safety issues with Takata airbags. Acted in a range of products class actions for multi-nationals such as Pfizer (pharmaceutical products), (Phillip Morris (tobacco), Du Pont (Benlate® fungicide) and Dow Corning (breast implants).

Environmental class actions

Acted for PTTEP Australasia in respect of a class action arising from an oil spill at its Montara oilfield in 2009. We have also advised on bushfire class actions and for Glencore, BHP Billiton and Oz Minerals in class actions alleging environmental damage in the course of mining operations.

Other financial services class actions

Acted for Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in sixteen investor class actions arising out of the Great Southern collapse, and for Macquarie Bank in an investor class action that followed the collapse of Storm Financial.

Other financial services class actions

Acted for ABN Amro in the landmark class action relating to the credit rating assigned to complex financial products known as CPDOs – the first case in the world to put a credit rating on trial. We also act for CBA and ANZ in class actions relating to the sale of CDOs.

Expert appointments

Partner Jenny Campbell was appointed by the Supreme Court of New South Wales as an independent (class action) expert to provide advice to class members who were required to choose between competing class actions relating to their investment in Provident Capital.