The past year saw another flurry of Canadian class action activity. Courts across the country rendered significant decisions that should give companies doing business in Canada cause for both concern and optimism. While the risk of facing a Canadian class action expands, new tools are emerging to deal with claims and limit exposure. The need for comprehensive yet practical strategies to avoid and defend complex Canadian class actions has never been greater.
Bennett Jones continues to be involved in some of the most significant class actions in Canada. Our practice group has earned its reputation as a nationwide leader. By coupling unsurpassed depth and breadth of experience with our unparalleled knowledge of procedure, we remain committed to helping clients defend all stages of high-stakes class proceedings and achieving results aligned with business priorities.
In the pages of this guide, we look forward to the Canadian class action landscape in 2018. We address heightened risk factors for companies that do business in Canada and abroad. Companies are more likely than ever to face global class actions brought in Canadian jurisdictions by foreign claimants.
Plaintiffs are increasingly seeking aggregate damages and finding receptive audiences in Canadian courts. Technological and political forces are fueling a rise of class actions in hot button areas of cybersecurity, workers’ rights and the environment. We anticipate these trends will continue into next year.
Still, there is good news for companies doing business in Canada. Defendants are using existing tools more effectively and pushing to develop new tools capable of blunting even aggressive plaintiffs’ counsel tactics. While third parties may still fund class claims, enhanced judicial scrutiny of funding arrangements appears likely to provide meaningful limitations on those arrangements. Increasing resort to mass tort claims create opportunities to avoid certain drawbacks of class actions. So too do direct-to-consumer settlements, which provide companies with the chance to rebuild (and even strengthen) consumer relations while avoiding or minimizing protracted class proceedings.
One thing is clear: creativity will be key as class actions march forward in 2018 and beyond. We look forward to assisting our clients meet this challenge.