THE B.C. Government is tabling amendments to the Class Proceedings Act that, if approved by the legislature, will clarify and improve the processes for class proceedings involving both residents and non-residents of British Columbia.
The proposed amendments will ensure that all appropriate parties in a multi-jurisdictional class action are included in the proceedings, regardless of where they live. The changes will increase access to justice and improve judicial efficiency by reducing the necessity for parallel proceedings to take place in other provinces or territories.
Under the current system, non-residents must take active steps to join a class proceeding, while the proposed changes will ensure that non-residents are automatically considered members of the lawsuit unless they voluntarily opt out.
The proposed amendments also include provisions that will require that plaintiffs in class proceedings in Canada are notified about similar class proceedings when they arise in British Columbia; will allow non-resident plaintiffs to make submissions at certification hearings; and will set out other considerations for the court to consider as part of the multi-jurisdictional class proceeding certification process.
Class proceedings enable claims arising from loss or injury caused by a single defendant to be brought by a large number of claimants when it would not otherwise be affordable or practical for them to bring claims individually.
* Class proceedings legislation has been enacted in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
* The proposed amendments are based on the Uniform Law Conference of Canada’s Uniform Class Proceedings Amendment Act.