Last week, the State passed legislation that instituted a class action procedure into the Queensland Supreme Court by amending the Civil Proceedings Act of 2011.
Representative proceedings are now allowed in the State if seven or more people have claims against the same person; the claims of all the people arise in respect of or from the same, similar or related circumstances; and the claims of all the people give rise to a substantial issue of law or fact.
Herbert Smith Freehills
says that the past introduction of class action mechanisms in other States could become bellwethers, particularly in the rise of class action activity in Queensland.
“If the experience in New South Wales is any indication, there is a ‘build it and they will come’ aspect to class action regimes. The mere fact of the introduction of a class action procedure in Queensland will see an initial period of rapid growth in these claims,” said HSF in a briefing.
“Notably, coincident with the introduction of the regime in New South Wales, there has been a doubling of Supreme Court class actions in the last 6 years compared to a more steady growth in Federal Court class actions,” the firm added.
Furthermore, HSF said that Queensland-based firms will be more confident developing class action practices knowing that when opportunities for class action proceedings are identified, they can be litigated locally. This reduces complexity and cost of commencement, the firm added.
Other law firms, like Landers & Rogers, see strong activity in class action because litigants can now try class action cases locally rather than in other States.
“In the past, Queensland-related class actions have been commenced in other jurisdictions," said Landers Brisbane-based insurance partner Matt Dudakov. "This legislation is likely to take effect in early 2017, and we expect that Queensland will certainly start to see considerable activity in the class actions space, as plaintiff law firms look to take advantage of the ability to bring these types of claims locally,”
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) also welcomed the new class action mechanism as it brings Queensland in line with similar legislation in Victoria and New South Wales.
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Parties will take advantage of the newly-enacted class action regime in Queensland, several law firms predict.