CARI’s underpinning philosophy is that untested questions of class actions law and practice are best identified and addressed through industry and academia collaboration. IMF Bentham, the world’s most successful commercial litigation funder, sponsors CARI.
We present our research at an annual conference, jointly held with IMF Bentham. CARI also partners with UNSW Edge, Law’s centre for continuing legal education, through an annual seminar on class actions. The annual conference and seminar are opportunities for legal practitioners and those interested in class actions to learn about CARI’s research and the latest developments in the class action field.
Class actions are legal proceedings brought on behalf of numerous persons, known as group members. When a class action settles for a monetary payment to compensate the group members, the payment needs to be divided among the group members. The division and distribution are determined by a court-approved settlement distribution scheme (SDS). Although the SDS is central to the determination of the actual amount that an individual group member receives from a class action settlement, the design and operation of SDSs have attracted little critical attention. CARI has undertaken research into how an SDS may be structured to promote fairness and efficiency in the distribution of compensation.
The extent to which a group member is bound by the outcome in a class action is of great significance to group members, parties and the justice system generally, as it raises the core concerns of finality and fairness. The group member will want to know which, if any, of their claims or part thereof are to be decided through the class action. The representative party needs to know the extent of their authority to represent group members. This, in turn, impacts the calculus of the plaintiff lawyer and litigation funder in the conduct or financing of the class action respectively. Equally, defendants will be concerned to know if the class action will resolve all claims against them. CARI has examined this issue of finality in relation to judgment and settlement with a view to promoting clarity and fairness as to the operation of the law.