Find Lawyers in Canada for Class Action Litigation

Practice Area Overview

Canadian class action activity has been steadily on the rise for the past few years and this trend is expected to continue in years to come. Unlike in the United States, the Canadian class action landscape features a low bar for the certification (or authorization) of a class action and our courts do not apply a rigorous scrutiny standard at that stage.

In most Canadian provinces, the certification process for a proposed class action involves a similar test that uses the following criteria: (a) the statement of claim discloses a reasonable cause of action (i.e. one not plainly and obviously doomed to fail), (b) there is an identifiable class of two or more persons, (c) the claim raises common issues (the questions of law common to the class must predominate over questions affecting individual members), (d) a class proceeding is the preferable procedure for the resolution of the common issues (it supersedes other available methods to resolve the issue in dispute); and (e) the representative plaintiff will fairly and adequately represent the class.

Unlike in other Canadian provinces, Quebec’s class action screening phase is referred to as the “authorization” rather than “certification” stage. The authorization of a class action in Quebec is subject to meeting the following criteria: (a) the class members’ claims raise identical, similar or related questions of law or fact (common issues need not predominate), (b) the facts alleged seem to justify the conclusions sought, (c) it is difficult for the class members to join in the same suit or appoint a representative to act on their behalf, and (d) the representative plaintiff is in a position to adequately represent the class.

Once a class action is certified or authorized, the merits of the case will be assessed in a trial of the common issues, as in any other conventional lawsuit.

Each Canadian province provides for rights of appeal at the various stages of a class action and various regimes for the filing of evidence, preliminary motions, discoveries, and other procedural steps.

Class action lawyers must have a thorough understanding of the intricacies of class action proceedings and keep abreast of developments in this constantly changing area of the law. Clients facing a proposed class action should seek out firms and attorneys with recognized class action expertise, in addition to knowledge and experience regarding the substance of the claim.
Vincent de l’Étoile, Partner

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