Class Actions Provide Access to Justice

by John McKiggan

I have been asked to speak at the Atlantic Province’s Trial Lawyers Association conference tomorrow about certification of class actions.

The goals of class action legislation have been stated again and again in various decisions from other provinces across the country. They are:

(a) Access to justice;
(b) Judicial economy ; and,
(c) Deterrence or behaviour modification.

It is not necessary that all of these goals be present in any particular action in order for the claim to be certified as a class proceeding. However, to the extent that these goals are realized, there is a greater likelihood that the matter will be certified.



Access to Justice

Of the three goals of class actions I think the first, access to justice, is the most important.

Unfortunately claimants can’t pick up a hot line and call The Justice League for help when they have a legal problem. For a variety of reasons, access to justice through the courts is something that is not available to many claimants.

That is where class actions can help level the playing field. They allow claimants who do not have the money, time, strength, courage, or resources to gain access to justice through the courts.

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