Robert Johnston

Class Actions Committee

Class actions are one of the fastest growing and dynamic areas of law and practice internationally. In an ever increasingly global marketplace, the Class Actions Committee brings together lawyers from around the world who are involved in class actions to discuss ideas and developments and to debate what are often significant public policy and rule of law issues. We look at class actions from both sides of the bar table and we deal not only with the more traditional consumer, product and shareholder claims areas but also with newer areas such as climate change and environment, human rights, data breach and privacy spheres.

About the Committee

Class actions or collective redress regimes are rapidly becoming more commonplace and being introduced in jurisdictions around the world. This developing category of litigation is seen as a means of more effectively providing access to justice for consumers and citizens, and bringing to account corporations, public authorities and even governments. However, as individual jurisdictions continue to grapple with getting the balance right and avoiding some of the excesses experienced in some countries, we are seeing many different regimes with many difference rules and processes being introduced. Often though, these differing systems are dealing with the same or similar global products, services, producers or problems. It is getting complicated and the law is sometimes seen as not keeping up with globalisation.

Some class action regimes are well advanced and are sophisticated models delivering redress and access to justice, while others are newly introduced and grappling with fundamental questions about balancing the rights of victims, advocates, financiers/promoters and defendants. This often requires younger regimes to observe overseas experiences as best practice guides for answering these complex questions. There is also an increasing trend for prosecution and defence of major litigation to be a coordinated global effort. Both developments provide fertile ground for collaboration and sharing knowledge and insights through our IBA network.

As the IBA is the global voice of the legal profession, the Class Actions Committee is the ideal forum for international lawyers to come together to discuss and better understand these differences; to monitor global developments which may have a local effect; to debate some of the important political and policy issues there are around class actions and the rule of law; and to meet with colleagues who are all involved in this space.

Focus areas

The Committee will be working alongside and collaborating with other IBA sections and committees with common interests, as class actions are starting to encroach on all areas of practice. The Committee will cover class actions in the following areas:

  • Consumer law / product liability
  • Shareholder / investor / securities
  • Insurance / financial
  • Medical negligence
  • Environmental / climate change and sustainability
  • Human rights
  • Employment
  • Anti-trust / competition
  • Public Law
  • Data breach, cybersecurity and privacy

Forthcoming conferences and webinars View All Conferences

Champions of collective redress: is Europe catching up with the US?

By Lianne Craig, Simon Bishop, Samantha Hewitt and Edward Nyman. Champions of collective redress: is Europe catching up with the US? - Consumer Litigation Law Committee, February 2021.

The brand new Italian class action

After the failure of the consumer’s class action provided under the Italian Consumer Code, the reform of the discipline – to be in force in May 2021 – is expected to stimulate the utilisation of the collective redress instrument.

Collective protection of consumers in Brazil: the Bill for a new collective actions system

The purpose of this article is to briefly present the main aspects involved in the Bill to institute a new regulation for collective actions and which is in progress before the Legislative Branch. The article approaches the origins of the Bill, its central proposals, the criteria directed to it and the relevance of its presentation, mostly considering the pressing need for change in response to continual growth and evolution of the consumer society.

Reforms in the Brazilian case law on collective proceedings filed by civil associations

Brazilian case law on collective proceedings filed by civil associations have endured several changes over the years, with backs-and-forths that give rise to doubts as to the scope and potential effects of these proceedings in the country. The issue is about to be settled by the Superior Court of Justice, and the current scenario suggests that past limitations to the associations’ standing to file collective proceedings and to the effects of the rulings rendered in such proceedings (ie, whether they benefi

Update on class actions in Australia

After smooth sailing for a number of years, in the last 12 months the robust and well-functioning class action landscape in Australia has been thrown into turmoil by a number of significant developments concerning commissions for funders, choosing a ‘winner’ in multiple, overlapping class actions, new regulations designed to reign-in funders and, for the first time in Australia, lawyers being able to charge contingency fees in Victoria.