As predicted, in the wake of Alberta's Class
Proceedings Act, proclaimed in force on April 1, 2004, the
number and magnitude of class actions in Alberta have continued to
surge. Recent amendments passed in 2010 to the certification
regime, including in relation to multi-jurisdictional
certifications and rendering Alberta an "opt-out"
jurisdiction, have continued the trend towards easing the burden on
class action plaintiffs in commencing and certifying class actions
This is exemplified by the recent filing of a class action by
the Calgary-based JSS Barristers LLP firm on behalf of students
whose personal information was allegedly misplaced by the
Government of Canada student loans program through the loss of a
computer hard drive containing this information. The commencement
of this action was quickly reported by major news agencies in
Alberta and will, no doubt, garner national attention. We expect
that other law firms across the country will be launching similar
While in comparison to more mature class action jurisdictions in
the United States, and Ontario, the prevalence of class actions in
Alberta remains limited, their frequency has trended steadily
upwards. Also trending upwards are the number and sophistication of
the plaintiff-side firms commencing these claims. Such firms have
followed on the successful models employed by Ontario-based firms
like Siskinds LLP. In light of Alberta's growing economic
prominence in Canada, as a major centre for business, trade and
finance (especially in the energy sector), we expect Alberta to
experience rapid growth in the class actions space over the next
This growth will clearly delineate the need for business
enterprises in Alberta to significantly elevate their level of
sophistication as it relates to class action risks. It will also
prioritize the development of sound strategies to mitigate those
risks and to defend these claims when they arise. Historically,
Alberta businesses have had the luxury of observing the emergence
and development of class actions law from a distance. That era has
clearly come to an end.
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