CBA urges bar to weigh in on class actions protocol

The Canadian Bar Association’s national task force on class actions is looking for feedback on a draft judicial protocol that aims to alleviate procedural havoc.

The task force was created in February 2010 to look for ways to tackle procedural problems that have caused headaches for litigants and courts involved in multijurisdictional and overlapping class actions. The issue has come to the fore in recent decades, as Canadian provinces have gradually introduced their own legislation permitting class proceedings. The lack of a single national approach means counsel in two or more provinces often seek certification in cases addressing the same issues.

“The purpose of the consultation is to ensure that the protocol will meet the needs of counsel, the judiciary, and parties affected by class action litigation,” explains task force chairwoman Sylvie Rodrigue of Montreal. “We also want to be sure the protocol will be effective in solving the problems that have and may arise in multijurisdictional class actions.”

The CBA says the draft protocol uses existing provisions in provincial class proceeding statutes to create a system that allows multiple or overlapping class actions to navigate the courts in an efficient manner.

“The protocol would allow those courts to work together to make orders regarding case management and would allow those courts, if they all agree, to name a single judge to co-ordinate the scheduling of procedures in the various courts, or the administration of a settlement,” says Rodrigue.

Most notably, the protocol would allow courts in different provinces or territories to join forces and issue orders on case management. It would also allow them to name a single judge who would be charged with facilitating procedures in the various courts, including the handling of settlements.

The consultation paper and draft judicial protocol are available on the CBA’s web site. The task force’s consultation period ends July 8.

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