What is a class action?
A class action is a lawsuit where one or more individuals make a claim on behalf of a larger group of individuals against one or more defendants instead of each individual filing a separate lawsuit. In Manitoba, class actions are governed by The Class Proceedings Act, which came into force on January 1, 2003.
After a lawsuit is filed under The Class Proceedings Act, the court must then decide if the lawsuit should proceed as a class action after considering several factors. If the court agrees that the lawsuit should proceed as a class action, the court will “certify” the class action and it will proceed through the formal court process.
What is the purpose of class actions?
There are three main goals of any class action.
First, it is generally more efficient and less burdensome on the court system to have one representative case proceed through the court system that will apply to all class members rather than each individual class member filing a separate lawsuit and having all of those cases proceed through the court.
Second, class actions allow a greater number of people an opportunity to access justice. Often, one individual simply cannot afford to pursue a lawsuit against one or more defendants and therefore could not have their claim resolved by the court. A class action allows people to join together to pursue a claim thereby providing greater access to justice.
Third, class actions aim to modify the behaviour of defendants. For example, if one person had an individual complaint against a large company, that company may not be inclined to modify their behaviour. However, if thousands of people join together and file a class action, that company will be much more likely to modify their behaviour to avoid similar problems in the future. In that way, class actions hold defendants accountable for their actions and how those actions affect other people or companies.
How much does it cost to join a class action and how do the lawyers get paid?
The Class Proceedings Act requires that the lawyer and the representative plaintiff have an agreement in writing determining the fees and disbursements to be paid and the formula by which those fees will be calculated. This agreement must be reviewed and approved by the court (and may often be reviewable by the Law Society of Manitoba). The court has the discretion to determine the appropriate fees.
Generally, individual class members are not responsible to pay lawyers for prosecuting the common issues in the class action that are applicable to all class members, nor are they liable to pay any costs awarded by the court if the class action is unsuccessful.
How do I know if I have a potential class action?
Class actions are applicable to all areas of law. The only criteria is that there are one or more people who have a common type of claim.
Applicable areas of law include, but are not limited to, product liability, personal injury, consumer protection, price fixing, pharmaceuticals, employment issues, pension issues, environmental issues, securities (shares, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) and many others.
If you have an idea for a potential class action, it is important that you contact us immediately. Do not send us any confidential information or documents until we can determine if we can assist you, at which point we will provide you with specific advice.
You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may call us at (204) 947-1456 or 1-888-470-0847 and speak with Mr. Samuel I. Wilder, Q.C. or his legal assistant, Cindy Gaudry, or you may fax us at (204) 957-1368.
You may also contact us by mail at:
Wilder Wilder & Langtry
Barristers and Solicitors
1500 Richardson Building
One Lombard Place
Winnipeg, MB R3B OX3
We may be able to facilitate a free consultation.
Our Team and Past Cases
Wilder Wilder & Langtry has been a progressive, innovative and full service law firm since being established in 1967. We offer extensive experience in class actions and we work with a large network to produce creative and successful solutions while always being respectful and sensitive to your privacy and financial circumstances.
Wilder Wilder & Langtry has been at the forefront of class actions in Manitoba since The Class Proceedings Act was enacted. We have pursued class actions against large pharmaceutical companies for an allegedly harmful pharmaceutical drug, we have pursued large confectionary companies for allegedly working together to artificially inflate the price of chocolate, and we have pursued large ticket-selling agencies for violating anti-scalping legislation.
Our team has a wealth of experience in civil and class action litigation and we can provide you with the representation needed to properly pursue a class action.