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


A note from the Chair for the October 2021 Class Actions e-Bulletin

A note from the Chair for the October 2021 Class Actions e-Bulletin

Released on Oct 20, 2021

Ongoing legislative discussions on expanding the list of entities with standing to file public civil actions in Brazil

Brazilian National Congress has been debating the expansion of the list of entities with standing to file public civil actions to include political parties and the holders of electoral mandates. The proposal raises questions on whether such expansion would be necessary or adequate as to ensure representativeness and provide better access to justice.

Released on Oct 12, 2021

UK courts continue to clarify the basis and scope of ‘representative actions’

Under UK civil procedure rules, a ‘representative action’ may be initiated or continued by or against one or more persons as representatives of others who have the ‘same interest’ in the claim. The use of this collective redress mechanism has expanded considerably in the last decade, despite the absence of clear juridical guidance on the scope of this form of action. The UK Court of Appeal has very recently provided helpful clarification on the fundamental requirements of a ‘representative action’ and what is required to satisfy the ‘same interest’ test in practice.

Released on Oct 12, 2021

UK and Europe: a new hub for data breach class actions?

In this article we look at the growth of data breach class actions in the UK and Europe following the coming into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We also consider regulatory activity in the data protection field and the links between investigations and recent class actions. Looking to the future we ask whether current trends are likely to continue, highlighting some powerful policy statements made by the English Court of Appeal in support of data breach class actions, and conclude with a few words on litigation funding and its role in facilitating these kinds of cases.

Released on Oct 12, 2021