Jason Betts, a commercial litigation partner says that class actions have unquestionably become the “fastest-growing species of litigation in Australia in the last decade.” He has noticed with time that big clients are more aware of a landscape where the risk of class actions is real.
In today’s business environment, class actions are no longer a worst-case scenario, they are, in fact, a business reality in Australia and there is a need to practically consider them as part of the operations of any company. In his opinion there is “no hesitation in saying that class action risks, in all of its forms, are one of the top three issues that boards concern themselves with, prepare for, discuss and address."
Betts says there has been a shift in the nature of class actions, from case structures being almost strictly shareholder class action litigation against listed corporate entities in respect to corporate governance issues to a greater variety of areas, such as cartel conduct, large product liability, and consumer class actions like the bank-fees-type litigation, for example.
Betts believes these changes are due to economic incentives, more players in the funding market, new and expanding plaintiff law practices as well the developing desire to discover new ground and push new horizons. “I see a possible class action litigation trend emerging in respect of environmental toxic torts,” he says.