Also known as a class action, a representative action is a legal suit in which the plaintiff or defendant belongs to and represents a large group of persons against a common respondent/s.
In Australia, there are regimes for representative actions in the Federal Court and the State Supreme Courts.
A class action can be commenced where:
- Seven or more people have claims against the same person(s);
- The claims are in respect of, or arise from, the same, similar, or related circumstances; and
- The claims give rise to at least on substantial common issue of law or fact
These requirements have been interpreted broadly by the Courts and are generally easily satisfied.
Some interesting numbers:
- Largest Australian representative action settlement: $200 million: Kirby v Centro Properties Limited; Vlachos v Centro Properties Limited (2012)
- Largest Australian representative action award: $494 million: Black Saturday bushfires case (2014)