What is a class action?
If you're the victim of an injustice and suspect that others might be in the same position as you, there's a possibility that your rights can be upheld through a class action.
A class action is a legal procedure specifically designed so that people facing similar situations can join forces to uphold their rights more effectively. Moreover, class actions have proven their value in cases involving consumers, the environment, illegal strikes, shareholders recourse, unfair competition, and pharmaceutical liability.
What is authorization about?
Authorization to launch a class action is a preliminary stage before actually filing the suit. In fact, in the authorization proceedings, the court must decide if the case before it satisfies clearly defined criteria, in which case the class action can be undertaken.
The preliminary proceedings to obtain authorization are necessary because, if a class action is allowed, the court will permit one person to represent the entire class, all of whose members have so far not been identified.
Do I have to pay to be part of a class action?
Usually the lawyers handling a class action case are only paid if the suit is won. Their fees are deducted from the money awarded to class members. In other words, throughout the proceedings, you will not be invoiced for legal fees nor have to pay court costs.
Who determines the lawyers' fees in a class action?
The court. In fact, the Superior Court of Quebec has the power to determine the fees of lawyers who successfully represent the members involved in a class action. The court therefore makes sure that the fees deducted from the compensation awarded to class members are fair and reasonable in light of each case's specific circumstances.
How long does a class action take?
There is no precise answer to that question. Some cases can be settled in a few months while others can drag on for years. As a general rule, however, class actions take five years on average.
How can I know if I am a class member?
We usually copy the class definition on the web page devoted to each of our class actions. We invite you to consult it, so that you will be able to determine whether or not you are a member of a given class. If in fact you are a member of one of our class actions, we invite you to fill up the registration form. This will allow us to forward you specific information that could require your attention.
Can I exclude myself from a class action?
Yes. Once authorization for a class action is given, notices are usually published in newspapers. The notices describe the procedures to follow and deadlines for excluding yourself from a class action and therefore not being bound by the eventual decision. Yet those who exclude themselves from a class action are no longer entitled to a share of the award that might be paid to class members.