Last week, we received notice that the Supreme Court of Canada has granted our motion to intervene in a case which will examine the criteria for certification of a proposed class action.
Class actions are lawsuits filed on behalf of a group of individuals with similar legal claims. When a class action is properly scrutinized and certified, it becomes a beneficial method of dispute resolution for both consumers and businesses.
We have noticed a significant increase in the number of class actions in recent years, and we believe this is a result of the court’s tendency to take a ‘certify now, ask questions later’ approach, viewing certification as a minor procedural step. Unfortunately, due to the risks involved in litigation, this approach has the potential to lead to time consuming, meritless trials and will unjustifiably increase the cost of doing business in Canada.
To ensure Canadian businesses remain competitive globally and Canada remains a jurisdiction to attract foreign investment, it is critical that courts rigorously and predictably apply the criteria for certification for a proposed class proceeding. Since we, as businesses and consumers, end up paying the cost of these legal actions, it is important that class proceedings are only certified where the criteria is met.
In October 2012, we appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada on a similar issue. In this case, we were able to provide oral arguments on the evidentiary standard of proof used when assessing evidence to support the certification of a class action. We are awaiting judgement.