On 23 June 2019 the State Attorney General, the Honourable John Quigley MLA announced the introduction into Parliament of the Civil Procedure (Representative Proceedings) Bill 2019. The Bill was a recommendation of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia's 2015 Representative Proceedings report.
The Government's media release notes that class actions serve an important role in providing access to justice by allowing people who have suffered damage due to a mass civil wrong to seek compensation as in the absence of such a scheme, individuals who cannot afford to seek redress could go through the courts uncompensated. While a mechanism for bringing a class actions in the Supreme Court exists, it has little application and was found by the Law Reform Commission to be outdated, inherently uncertain and silent on many procedural aspects of representative proceedings.
Attorney General John Quigley said:
"Without a strong and sustainable mechanism for bringing class actions, countless individuals will not see justice and their losses will go uncompensated ... "The availability of such a scheme is of increasing importance in an economy in which civil wrongs are often committed on a mass scale by large and powerful entities."
A Federal class actions scheme was first introduced 27 years ago and has allowed those who have been wronged to gain access to justice and be awarded compensation for the wrongs they have suffered. It will be interesting to see how, if the Bill becomes law, the new scheme will affect the litigation landscape in WA.
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