Queensland – No longer in a class of its own

The recent introduction of the Limitation of Actions (Institutional Child Sexual Abuse) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill into the Queensland parliament will make promising inroads for Queensland litigants seeking recourse in the courts by way of a class action suit.

The shakeup to the Civil Proceedings Act 2011 contained within the Bill will introduce “a comprehensive statutory regime to facilitate the effective conduct and management of representative proceedings (commonly called ‘class actions’) in Queensland”. The changes will be a timely advance for Queenslanders seeking efficient and effective access to justice for large scale multi-party claims, and bring Queensland in line with its southern state counterparts.

The key changes in the Bill will permit litigants to commence a class action in the Queensland Supreme Court if:

  1. 7 or more persons have claims against the same person; and
  2. the claims of all the persons are in respect of, or arise out of, the same, similar or related circumstances; and
  3. the claims of all the persons give rise to a substantial common issue of law or fact.

Parties will not be precluded from participating in representative proceedings even if claims for damages require individual assessment or involve separate contract or transactions between the defendants and the individual group members.

A significant reform for Queensland litigants, the Queensland Law Society said:

“Class actions are often the only way that poorly resourced victims of disasters and other tragedies can uphold their rights, but for Queensland victims with a possible class action, the only option previously has been to commence those actions in other jurisdictions,” says QLS president Bill Potts.

There are several large Queensland-based class actions that are currently underway in New South Wales or Victoria due to the previous limitation of commencing these claims in Queensland, such as those effected by the 2011 Queensland floods.

William Roberts class action team are experienced in managing class action matters on behalf of claimants, defendants and other stakeholders such as insurers and funders.

The Bill is currently before the Queensland Parliament for consideration and review.