For those of you interested in class action reform issues abroad, Jocelyn Kellam and Stuart Clark of the Australian firm Clayton Utz have a new article out today entitled Australia: Be Alarmed Be Very Alarmed: Class Action Reforms Mooted, available at www.Mondaq.com (free registration may be required). The article is critical of several pro-plaintiff reforms being considered by the State of Victoria that the authors say would “make even more plaintiff-friendly than the United States.”
Some of the proposed reforms described in the article may raise a few eybrows even for the most jaded class action defense lawyers here in the U.S. They include a measure to give judges discretion to award cy pres remedies (for example, an award requiring a defendant pay money to charity when absent class members cannot be located), the addition of a legal assistance fund that would, among other things, help defray adverse cost awards, giving absent class members the right to be included in the class only if they consent (it is not clear to me whether this is an opt-in provision or something different), and a provision allowing for the joinder of plaintiffs who have claims against different defendants, as long as each plaintiff has a claim against one defendant.
The article notes that the reforms have been criticized as “read[ing] like a wish list for plaintiff lawyers” and “would make Victoria a veritable nirvana for plaintiff lawyers.”
The Clayton Utz website has various articles, papers, and brochures discussing Australian class action issues. Here is a link.