Competing class actions as a “beauty parade”

Published: 17 August 2020

The Class Actions & Litigation Funding team is currently preparing a consultation document looking at issues raised by these two interesting aspects of civil litigation.

The Commission’s review is proving timely with class actions and litigation funding continuing to pose novel issues for the courts. In late June more than 10 lawyers appeared at a hearing in the Auckland High Court to decide how to manage the five proceedings now on foot following the $747 million collapse of CBL Corporation in 2018. Amongst the various claims relating to CBL’s failure are two different representative actions. These two proceedings seek to represent shareholders who lost money in CBL’s collapse. Each of the class actions is backed by a different litigation funder. One claim, funded by the ASX-listed Omni Bridgeway, is targeting CBL while the claim funded by NZ-based LPF Group Ltd is targeting both CBL and its directors.

The best way to best manage the issues raised by competing funded class actions has been a point of contention in Australia where courts have had to select which class action should proceed in what has been termed a “beauty parade” of vying class actions. The High Court will have to grapple with the complex and novel issues posed by the competing actions which may prove a challenge without the benefit of rules on this point.

The Commission’s review will consider these kinds of novel issues as well as broader questions about the desirability and role of class actions and litigation funding in New Zealand.

We will publish an initial consultation document later this year to seek views on a range of issues relating to class actions and litigation funding in New Zealand.