"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Friday, December 28, 2007

Big News ... New Class Proceedings Act for Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has finally passed a piece of legislation authorizing 'class actions'. Most provinces in Canada have such legislation, which allows one or two individuals to go forward as plaintiffs, representing not just themselves but also others whose claims raise a common issue.

The court can 'certify' a proceeding as a class proceeding even though
  • the relief claimed includes a claim for damages that would require individual assessment;
  • the relief claimed relates to separate contracts involving different class members;
  • different remedies are sought for different class members;
  • the number or identify of each class member is not ascertained and may not be ascertainable; or
  • the class includes a subclass whose members have claimed not shared by all class members.
From the lawyer's point of view, this makes it much easier and more effecient to bring forward the case of, for example, one child with special needs who is suing the school board for failing to accommodate his disabilities in a situation where you know there are other children who also have a similar claim against that same school board. Or, for another example, the situation of a challenged person bringing suit against the Province in the person of the Department of Community Services for failure to provide them with services to which they are entitled under the Services for Persons with Disabilities program when there are other individuals in the Province with similar claims and causes of actions.

Now one person can take the case forward on behalf of the others with the result that not only is it brought to the court's attention that this isn't just an isolated 'one-off' occurence or problem [and never underestimate the importance of that little tidbit], but also, if successful, the judgement and order against the defendant should benefit all members of the class, be it a declaration of rights or a montetary judgment.

Prior to this, Nova Scotians in such a situation could only proceed by way of a representative action, a much more cumbersome and less satisfactory route. One point to note, however, is that even though the Class Proceedings Act has been passed, to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been proclaimed. That must still await the government's pleasure ... in other words, they will do it when they get around to it.

1 comment:

Maisie said...

Interesting to know.