Garton & Harris

Class certification for class action lawsuits

When two or more people wish to sue the same defendant for the defendant's wrongful actions in British Columbia, they may do so either separately or instead try to file a class action civil lawsuit. Provincial law outlines the procedure plaintiffs seeking to file a class action lawsuit must go through in order to file.

The Class Proceedings Act requires those seeking to file as a class must first seek certification from the court. The pleading must identify a minimum of two or more people with common or similar issues and a clearly identifiable cause of action. Their must also be a plaintiff who can fairly and appropriately represent the interests of the other class members. The representative plaintiff must also have a plan to identify and contact class members, and they cannot have any conflict with another class member's issue.

The court considers several factors when determining whether a class action lawsuit is the preferable manner in which to proceed. Whether the common issues predominate over other individual ones and whether other approaches to resolve the issues would be less efficient are both factors for certification. The court will also consider whether a large number of class members would have valid interests in separate prosecutions as well as whether the class action would involve claims that have already been litigated.

Class action litigation is sometimes preferable to filing a large number of separate lawsuits against the same defendant. Class members whose interests are represented by the representative plaintiff may benefit due to the better efficiency provided by class certification. People who are considering filing a lawsuit against a defendant and who believe there are more possible plaintiffs may want to speak to a lawyer about their options.

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