October 28, 2011
Sossin on Class Actions Against the Crown
Lorne Sossin (York University - Osgoode Hall Law School) has posted Revisiting Class Actions Against the Crown: Balancing Public and Private Legal Accountability for Government Action to SSRN.
Five years ago, I began to notice a trend toward more numerous and wide ranging class actions against the Crown, seeking redress for state action against those claiming they were especially harmed by that action. Some of these class actions – for example, seeking remedies for the Crown’s role in the SARS or Mad Cow outbreaks – sought billions of dollars of damages. Many of these class actions, in my view, involved the review of ministerial decision-making and could have been framed as judicial reviews in the conventional administrative law sense. Was the incentive for mass recovery and soaring contingency fees driving more lawyers to frame unfair or unreasonable government decisions as violating tort and contract standards? Was I witnessing another dimension of access to justice and progressive behaviour modification through class actions, or alternatively, did this trend represent a distortion of public accountability through private claims?