If you have been hurt — either physically or mentally — or have been otherwise wronged in some way because of a company or institution, you may not be alone. When many people come together to fight against a large company or government, they stand a greater chance of success. Class actions allow people to go up against a larger, more powerful entity.
Class actions come in all shapes and sizes. They can include lawsuits for defective products, environmental hazards, pharmaceutical malpractice, securities fraud, and institutional abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect, and more.
At Valent Legal, we have extensive experience with class action lawsuits, and we assist you every step of the way.
If you think a class action lawsuit is your best option, or if you have been contacted about a class action that may involve you, we are here to help. For a free, no-risk case assessment, give us a call. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no fees until you get a settlement, or you win a judgment in court. In most cases, our service exceeds our clients’ expectations. Visit How We Work to learn more.
What Is a Class-Action Lawsuit?
A class action is a type of lawsuit where one or more people work with a lawyer to bring justice to themselves and a larger group of people who have had similar experiences. This group is called a “class.”
These lawsuits are powerful and cost-effective because they allow people to band together and put forward a single claim. They give individuals access to justice, and the public sees them as a social service, because they hold large companies and governments accountable, helping to change their behaviour.
Each Canadian province and territory operates with its own court system. Most civil claims such as class action lawsuits can be filed in provincial or territorial superior courts. The Federal Court of Canada has jurisdiction in matters relating to specific federal statutes such as class action lawsuits against the federal government, a federal ministry, or the Crown agency. The Federal Court can also hear cases against private parties for claims based on federal statute violations.
Western Canadian Shopping Centres v Dutton,  2 SCR 534, was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of Canada provided a procedural blueprint authorizing class action proceedings in all Canadian jurisdictions. Prince Edward Island relies on Dutton for the structure of its class action proceedings. All other provinces have provincial class proceedings statutes, while Québec has enacted class action provisions in its Code of Civil Procedure.
What Is the Process for Filing a Class Action in Canada?
The initiation of a class action lawsuit differs depending on the location of the class.
A statement of claim can be filed in any other common law province or territory, all seeking class certification. A class action must be certified by the court, but Québec will grant authorization for an application.
While formal notice is required for proceedings against the Crown and in securities actions, it is not required prior to commencement of other class actions unless required by statute.
Most class actions will have one or more plaintiffs identified as class representatives. An action typically needs to be commenced by a plaintiff who is a resident of the province in which the action is filed.
Class members will be notified of a proceeding once a class action lawsuit is certified. The rights and obligations of class members differ depending on the jurisdiction in which the class action was filed and the province in which they reside.
Most Canadian jurisdictions require people who wish to be excluded from a class to opt-out of the class action. In Nova Scotia, people have to take the active step of opting-out of a certified class action or they will be automatically included is they are members of the class. New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador require resident class members to formally opt out, and non-residents wanting to participate in a class action lawsuit must opt in.
Aside from Québec, plaintiffs in class action lawsuits only need to prove the existence of two or more members. There are no requirements as to the size of a class. The court determines if a class action lawsuit is the best way to resolve a matter.
How Does Compensation Work in a Class-Action Lawsuit?
Court approval is necessary in class action lawsuit settlements to determine whether a proposed settlement is fair and reasonable. A plaintiff has to prepare a plan of notice that is distributed to the class and describes the settlement. It also includes the date and location of the hearing to approve the settlement, the procedure and time for delivery of objections, and the right to attend the hearing in person.
A final settlement in a class action binds all of the members of the class to the relief granted in the judgment. Once the gavel comes down, it will preclude the commencement of any further legal action over the issues in the class action. Settlement agreements usually require comprehensive releases similarly precluding further proceedings.
Settlement funds are typically distributed equally to all members of a class. Any leftover could be returned to the defendants. They could also be paid out by way of a cy-près (a French phrase meaning “as near as”) distribution to one or more organizations such as charities connected to the claim’s subject matter.
Regarding contingency fees, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the territories follow the “loser pays” system under their Rules of Court. Québec also has a “loser pays” rule, but the tariff of costs payable in class actions can be significantly reduced to minimize adverse costs. British Columbia follows a “no costs” system under which neither party receives any costs.
Class Actions Our Firm Has Handled
Valent Legal handles various kinds of class action cases including these that are currently pending:
- PEI Disability Supports Class Action — Valent Legal is representing a class of Prince Edward Island residents disabled by mental illness owing to the Prince Edward Island government’s decision to exclude these individuals from accessing benefits or support under the province’s Disability Supports Program.
- BMO Nesbitt Burns Overtime Class Action — Valent Legal is representing a class of current and former financial advisors employed by the investment firm BMO Nesbitt Burns for unpaid overtime in breach of Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code.
- Shediac Fire Class Action — Valent Legal represents a class of inmates at the Shediac jail over the harm they experienced following a result of a large fire at the Southeast Regional Correctional Centre in Shediac, New Brunswick. On October 25, 2017, prison officials instructed all inmates to remain in the yard while walls burned around them. Some inmates suffered burns while others are dealing with stress, anxiety, and possible post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Solitary Confinement Class Action — Valent Legal has commenced a class action against the Attorney General of Nova Scotia because of the systemic infliction of prolonged solitary confinement upon prisoners of the province’s correctional facilities. Inmates were confined to isolated cells for a minimum of 23 hours per day, possibly for weeks or months at a time, and breached various rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Ontario Child Welfare/Citizenship Class Action — Valent Legal commenced a class action lawsuit against the Attorney General of Ontario with the help of Julie M. Kirkpatrick Prof Corp. on behalf of Crown Wards taken into care as non-citizens. The action alleges that Ontario was negligent and in breach of its parental duties to these children by failing to take appropriate steps to secure their citizenship or residency status while they were in care. Moreover, children faced significant hurdles in obtaining education and employment after they had aged out of care without any citizenship or residency documentation.
- East Coast Forensic Hospital Strip Search Class Action — Valent Legal is representing mentally ill patients of the East Coast Forensic Hospital who were subject to an unlawful and unconstitutional hospital-wide strip search on October 16, 2012. The hospital breached the rights of the patients who were subjected to unreasonable search by the state guaranteed by section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Waterville Correctional Institution – Valent Legal is representing former youth residents of the Nova Scotia Youth Facility (“Waterville”) over allegations of sexual abuse by staff within the facility.
Our firm also handles many other kinds of class action lawsuits applying to a broad range of significant areas of concern in Canada.
Talk to Our Class Action Lawyers in Halifax Now
If you think that you are a potential plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, top-quality legal representation is a priority. Contact Valent Legal to enable our firm to provide the experienced, compassionate assistance that can help you get the results you desire.
Our firm prides itself in delivering first-rate client service including helping you and your family pursue all of the compensation you are entitled to. Call us or contact us online today to set up a free consultation in our Halifax office. We currently represent class action clients in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.