- Civil Procedure (Representative Proceedings) Bill 2019 to be introduced into State Parliament
- The creation of the legislation was a recommendation of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia's (LRCWA) 2015 final Representative Proceedings report
- The new regime will enhance access to justice in WA by introducing class actions for the first time in WA
- New legislation meets a McGowan Labor Government election commitment
A Bill to enact a legislative class actions scheme in Western Australia will be introduced into State Parliament this week.
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.
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for bringing a class actions in the Supreme Court exists, it has little application and was found by the LRCWA to be outdated, inherently uncertain and silent on many procedural aspects of representative proceedings.
A legislative class actions Federal 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.
The McGowan Government's Bill seeks to implement a scheme modelled on the successful Federal scheme, which has been substantially adopted in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The enactment of a class scheme was a WA Labor commitment at the 2017 State election.
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"Class actions, at its heart, is an access to justice issue.
"There are many in our community with the right and very deserving case for compensation but who are unable to access the courts because they simply cannot afford to bring an action.
"In particular, there are situations where a legal wrong has been committed which affects many people, but each person's individual loss is not such as to make it economically viable to bring an individual action.
"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.
"One of the requirements for class actions is that there must be seven or more individuals with claims against the same person which are in respect of, or arise out of, the same, similar or related circumstances.
"This regime has been substantially adopted in Victoria in 2000, New South Wales in 2011, and Queensland in 2017 and has stood the test of time.
"It is yet another example of an important law reform initiative which the former Barnett Liberal National Government failed to implement, despite the Law Reform Commission's recommendation back in 2015.
"This regime will not only enhance access to justice by reducing the cost of court proceedings to the individual and improve the individual's ability to access legal remedies, it will enable court resources to be used more efficiently."
Attorney General's office - 6552 6800