Class actions are an important and powerful tool in civil litigation, but one that has only recently come to the fore in New Zealand. A class action is a proceeding where one party (usually the plaintiff) represents a larger group of people with the “same interest” in the dispute. Effectively, the claims of group members are pooled together and litigated in one collective proceeding, rather than hundreds (or even thousands) of separate proceedings.
The key benefits of class actions are enhancing access to justice, improving the efficiency of dispute resolution, and deterring mass wrongdoing. However, they can expose defendants to significant liability and uncertainty.
Class actions are a procedural tool, rather than a substantive area of law. As such, they can feature in almost any area of civil litigation, including company and securities, consumer, competition, employment, environmental, and public and administrative law.
Unlike many other common law jurisdictions, New Zealand does not have a detailed set of court rules for litigating class actions, and the procedure is still relatively novel in this country. For those reasons, expert advice is crucial for parties who are thinking about bringing a class action, or who are facing a class action against them.
Our members have significant experience in class actions.