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What Are Class Actions?

A Class Action is a type of lawsuit in which an individual or small group files a suit or defends on behalf of a large group.  This type of suit is typically used when there are a large number of people who have been affected by an issue and/or where it would not be feasible for individual plaintiffs to handle their claims individually.

Here at Guardian Law Group, our Class Actions department is headed up by one of Alberta’s most-experienced Class Actions litigators, Clint Docken, Q.C., who has set precedents at almost every level of courts in Canada, from the Alberta Queen’s Bench all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.  In addition to Mr. Docken, Guardian has a skilled team of lawyers and support staff from various backgrounds. We also have connections across Canada and the United States and will also frequently work with co-counsel from other firms in order to create the most effective process possible to obtain the best results for our clients.

The Class Actions process is split in to three phases:

  1. Certification Phase

  2. Litigation Phase

  3. Claims Administration Phase

The Certification Phase is where the matter will be brought before a Court to seek approval for the claim to be processed as a Class Action.  In preparation for this stage of the matter, Guardian will do research both in to the applicable laws and in to the Defendant(s), we will also try to recruit as many potential class members as possible to maximize the impact of our case.

The Litigation Phase is when we will be fighting for you in court.  We will present the facts in front of a judge and make the best arguments available to us.

We have found that most cases tend to settle during one of these two phases.  As companies will often wish to minimize any negative publicity and resolve matters as quickly as possible, they are usually incentivized to throw money at the matter to get it to go away.  This is also often in your best interest as it significantly speeds up the process, plus the outcome is more definitive when compared to being left up to a judge.

The final phase of the Class Actions process is the Claims Administration Phase.  This is after a ruling has been reached, at which point the Court will appoint an independent Claims Administrator in Ontario to process all claims individually.  This must be done for every case, as it is meant to secure the process and ensure fair treatment for all litigants.

Please be aware that Class Action cases are especially complex due to the number of plaintiffs and the nature of the cases, therefore, each step of the process can take substantially longer to complete when compared to other types of law.

In addition to the feasibility benefits to the government of handling multiple Claims at once, Class Actions also grant a number of benefits to the plaintiffs involved, such as:

  • The ability to pool the plaintiffs’ resources;

  • Increased leverage to negotiate a settlement;

  • All information obtained is available to all clients;

  • Limited expectations of involvement placed on individual claimants; and

  • There is a significantly reduced cost to the individual claimants.

Class Action cases can address a range of issues, but generally focus on matters which have negatively-impacted a significant number of people.  Examples of the types the lawyers at Guardian have handled include, but are not limited to: