class members

About Class Actions - What you should know

As consumers, when we purchase products or services from companies, we have a reasonable expectation that those products and services are not defective, will not cause us harm, and that we will be treated fairly.  When these same companies fail to meet their obligations, it is your right as a consumer to hold them accountable for the financial or physical harm they cause in order to compensate victims and to discourage similar business practices from occurring in the future.

However, a lone consumer is often powerless against a giant company and, therefore, individuals' rights are sometimes disregarded by powerful corporations.   A class action lawsuit may be the only avenue to compensate victims of corporate wrongdoing.

In class actions the burden of the costs are almost always covered by the lawyers.  In almost all cases, all legal fees are on a contingency fee basis, which means that counsel fees and disbursements are only awarded to the lawyers if the class action is successful, as a percentage of the amount awarded to the class from a judgment or a settlement.

The Fonds d'aide aux recours collectif in Quebec and the Class Proceedings Committee in Ontario may accept to advance certain funds related to the class action and to protect against a negative cost award.  This can prove useful to help the lawyers prosecute the class action on behalf of the class.

If a class action fails, class members do not pay any legal fees or expenses to class counsel and, therefore, there is no risk.  On the contrary, when an individual takes legal action and it fails, that person must pay such fees, which could be significant, from their own pockets.

Due to the financing by lawyers and governmental organizations and the limitation of risk, class actions grant citizens a greater access to justice.  Most individuals would not otherwise be able to assume the costs of such major litigation on their own.

The lead plaintiff is the person who addresses the Court in the name of the other members that he or she wishes to represent.  If the Court certifies the class action, this person becomes the class representative.

The lead plaintiff’s role is to present his or her situation to class counsel and give his or her lawyer the mandate to initiate a class action.  A written agreement is then signed in which it is agreed that neither he, she, nor the class members assume any financial obligation, nor any costs if the class action fails.

The lead plaintiff should help in the preparation of the legal proceedings by providing the information and documents concerning his or her individual situation.  The lead plaintiff should also be available to accompany the lawyer to Court for the certification hearing, as well as, any possible discovery.

The lead plaintiff is supported by the lawyer at every step of the way.  

Our law firm specializes in class actions.  We currently manage over thirty class actions. If you have questions regarding class actions or a particular class action, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
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