Queensland declares class action commitment

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The hot topic of class actions continues to grab attention, as the Queensland government announced its commitment to introducing a class action regime in the state.

The announcement, by Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, that Queenslanders will eventually be able to launch class actions against the government and businesses, has naturally been met with approval from plaintiff firms.

Maurice Blackburn welcomed the Queensland government’s commitment to a class actions regime, saying the move was an important step in helping to open access to justice for Queenslanders.

There is currently no provision for Queenslanders to launch class actions in their own state, meaning that plaintiffs resort to looking across borders if they want to proceed.

A class action resulting from Queensland’s devastating 2011 floods against the operators of the Wivenhoe Dam was lodged in the NSW Supreme Court.
Class action principal at Maurice Blackburn, Damian Scattini said the Queensland government’s acceptance of arguments in favour of the broad benefits of a class actions regime was encouraging, but said it was also important that any state-based regime mirrored current federal provisions.

“We need to see the full details of what the government is proposing, however it’s important that any new scheme in Queensland incorporates provisions of the current Federal scheme which has a proven track record in working to effectively run large group actions,” Scattini said. 

Scattini also said it was important that any Queensland scheme has in place processes for efficiently resolving common issues amongst class members such as the ability to protect class members from the operation of limitations periods and an agreed court approval process for settlements.

Australia’s class action regime has recently been attracting critics who have misgivings over litigation funding arrangements and who fear the arrival of a litigious culture that is similar to America's.