The Role of the Court in a Class Action Lawsuit

Learn about the role of courts in class action lawsuits and how they help reduce costs for legal claims.

The Role of the Court in a Class Action Lawsuit

A lawsuit is typically associated with a judge and a courtroom. However, when it comes to a class action lawsuit, several cases can be handled at once, which helps to reduce the strain on court schedules. In New Zealand, the presence and expansion of litigation funders has played an important role in the emergence of class action lawsuits. Germany also recognizes Associative Action (Verbandklage), which is similar to class action.

A class action lawsuit begins with the filing of a complaint in which at least one representative of the group is appointed. This representative then files the lawsuit on behalf of the entire proposed group. Class action lawsuits are beneficial because they reduce the cost of legal claims, making it possible for some plaintiffs to move forward with their cases. Civil rights class action cases usually involve requests for injunctions, or legal remedies, rather than demands for payment. The first court to certify will generally exclude residents of provinces whose courts have certified a parallel class action lawsuit.

Additionally, current law requires judicial approval of all class action agreements and, in most cases, group members have the opportunity to opt out of the collective agreement. However, some group members may not be aware that they can opt out due to lack of notification. Any action by a company that harms large numbers of people in a similar way may be appropriate for a class action lawsuit. In Spain, designated consumer associations are allowed to take measures to protect consumers' interests. These are not considered class actions since each individual plaintiff is entitled to compensation for the damages suffered and not for being a part of a group. A study on federal settlements required the researcher to manually search the relevant records in the lawsuit databases.

Unfortunately, state class action lawsuits were not included due to difficulty in collecting information. Class action lawsuits offer a strong financial incentive for experienced lawyers to represent individuals because settlements and verdicts can be quite broad.