The Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Christian Porter MP, referred this inquiry to the Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services because of concerns that included the number of class actions, whether they are benefitting class action members, whether class actions, and in particular shareholder class actions, are in the public interest, the size of the returns to litigation funders, and the current regulatory regime for litigation funding.
Australia's class action regime varies across federal, state and territory jurisdictions. In this report, the committee focuses on developments and trends at the federal level and what occurs in the Federal Court of Australia (Federal Court). That said, the committee also considers unilateral developments at a state level where they may have broader ramifications. The committee also covers issues around national consistency at the end of the report.
The report is divided into five parts:
- Part 1 provides background information, data and trends on class actions and litigation funding, and then sets out the rationale for the committee's approach to the key issues;
- Part 2 considers reasonable, proportionate and fair powers, procedure and practice in Federal Court class actions;
- Part 3 considers reasonable, proportionate and fair litigation funding fees and legal costs in class actions;
- Part 4 considers other regulatory measures, including oversight of conflicts of interests in litigation funded class actions and the financial services regulation of litigation funders in class actions; and
- Part 5 considers two final matters: shareholder class actions and national consistency across Australia's class action regimes.