Australia is plaintiff-friendly and perhaps second only to North America when it comes to a company's chances of facing a class action. As litigation funders look for the next class action to fund, all industries and sectors are potential targets. If your business is in their sights, you need a team of experts in the specialised skill of class actions defence on your side.
Market-leading class action lawyers
We have been on the cutting-edge of class action litigation for almost 30 years, acted in many seminal class actions, and been at the heart of the development of class actions law, so we deeply understand the issues which drive class actions – and how to defend them.
Our experience covers a broad cross-section of the class action subject-matter that has been conducted in Australia. As a full service firm, we have lawyers with diverse skills and experience, across a range of sectors, and our long track record gives us real knowledge of the Australian class actions landscape.
And that mix doesn't stop at Australia's borders. Strong whole-business connections with leading firms around the globe allow us to exchange knowledge and expertise with our international connections, and maintain an up-to-date understanding of international legal developments, and what they mean for our clients. And when we create the right team for your defence, we tap into an extensive network of the best international lawyers and experts.
Demonstrated experience in the strategic defence of class actions proceedings
Successful defences of class actions are about more than just knowing the law. We've learnt from running class actions from initial challenge right through to trial and remediation that there's no single right way to manage a class action successfully which meets our clients' legal and commercial objectives.
That's why we create a bespoke strategy to advise you on your class actions risk, defend actions, devise innovative resolutions in mass claims and manage the issues that arise along the way.
You'll understand all your options when faced with a class action, so you can choose the strategy that's right for your business and your business needs – from early settlement to pursuit of litigation through to the last appeal – and one that complements your regulatory and reputational responses.
CLASS ACTIONS FAQS
We have prepared this document to provide information on frequently asked questions
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or concerns on class actions in Australia.
OUR RECENT Experience
Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices
- Johnson & Johnson: We acted for Johnson & Johnson Medical Pty Ltd, Ethicon Sàrl and Ethicon, Inc. in a class action in the Federal Court concerning pelvic mesh medical devices used for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. A $300 million settlement was approved on 16 March 2023.
- Merck & Co Inc and MSDA: We acted for Merck and MSDA in a class action in the Federal Court involving claimants who alleged cardiovascular injuries due to their consumption of the prescription medicine VIOXX. In 2011 the Full Federal Court found against the lead applicant and the claims of group members were subsequently settled. This case remains the landmark Australian product liability class action decision.
- Bayer Australia Limited: We are acting for the Bayer Group in a class action in the Supreme Court of Victoria concerning the Essure contraceptive device.
- Philips Electronics Australia Ltd: We are defending Philips Electronics Australia Ltd in a class action in the Federal Court relating to named CPAP and BiPAP devices for the treatment of sleep apnoea, which are also the subject of a global recall, which began in mid-2021 and associated regulatory investigations.
- GD Searle & Co: We defended GD Searle & Co (now merged with Pfizer Inc) and Monsanto Corporation in the Australian proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales involving the Gravigard (Copper 7) intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD). These proceedings were commenced before the introduction of the modern class actions system in Australia and were conducted as test cases involving representative plaintiffs. We were successful at trial and, although the trial judgments were overturned on appeal, the claims were ultimately resolved by settlement.
- Eli Lilly: We acted for Eli Lilly in two Federal Court class actions involving drugs prescribed for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The proceedings were settled in 2013.
- Australian Fen-Phen: We acted for Servier Laboratories in the successful defence of the Australian Fen-Phen class action litigation, involving two weight loss products. The proceedings were originally commenced in the Federal Court, but in 1999 the Court made an order that they no longer continue as a class action and transferred them to the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
- Grunenthal GmbH: We represented Grunenthal GmbH in the defence of two class action proceedings involving Australian and New Zealand claimants who allege they suffered certain birth deformities relating to the consumption of the drug Distaval. The claims were discontinued against Grunenthal following approval of a settlement with the Australian distributor of the drug.
- Baxter Health: We successfully defended a number of class actions in the Federal Court commenced against Baxter Health in relation to silicone implants.
- Medtel & St Jude Medical Inc: We defended a class action in the Federal Court class action proceedings brought in respect of pacemakers which were affected by a manufacturing issue that gave rise to a risk of premature battery depletion. The claims were settled following a trial and appeal.
- Volkswagen Emissions: We defended the VW Group in five consumer class actions brought by two separate law firms on behalf of vehicle owners and two regulatory actions by the ACCC in relation to vehicles which contain EA 189 diesel engines. After running the matter to a trial, we successfully negotiated a settlement in each proceeding, with the Federal Court approving the settlement in April 2020.
- Takata Air Bags: We acted for each of Subaru and Volkswagen in their defence of Takata airbag class actions brought in the Supreme Court of New South Wales on behalf vehicle owners against the Australian distributors of vehicles originally supplied with airbag inflators manufactured by Takata. The claims alleged that these vehicles have reduced in value as a result. We negotiated a settlement on behalf of Subaru which was approved by the Court in June 2022. Volkswagen was entirely successful in its defence in the only trial held to date.
- Toyota Motor Corporation Australia: We are acting for Toyota in relation to a class action brought in the Federal Court on behalf of owners of certain models of diesel vehicles that contain Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs). An appeal judgment handed down on 27 March 2023 set aside the trial judge's orders requiring Toyota to pay compensation to group members and remitted the matter to the trial judge for further consideration. We are also defending Toyota in relation to a separate class action in the Supreme Court of Victoria challenging the regulatory status of certain diesel vehicles by means of an alleged technical interpretation of the applicable Australian Design Rules. The claim seeks the return of the entire amount paid for any of those vehicles, whether new or used.
- Hino Motors Ltd (Hino Motors): We are defending Hino Motors in a class action in the Supreme Court of Victoria in relation to alleged misconduct concerning engine certification of certain Hino diesel vehicles.
- Jaguar Land Rover Australia (JRLA): We are defending JLRA in two class actions in the Federal Court by owners of certain models of diesel vehicles that contain diesel particulate filters.
- Vitamins Cartel: We acted Hoffmann LaRoche in a class action in the Federal Court arising from alleged anti-competitive conduct in the international vitamins industry. This case remains one of Australia's largest resolved private enforcement class actions.
- Landfill Class Action: We advised an international insurer in the defence strategy applied to successfully resolve a complex multi-party class action in Supreme Court of Victoria in relation to toxic gas emissions from a major urban landfill.
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia: We successfully defended CBA and The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited in a class action in the Federal Court concerning the sale of CBA's credit insurance products.
- FX markets: We are advising on a £1 billion+ class action in the Federal Court including allegations that the defendants rigged the global foreign exchange market. This is the only competition class action commenced in Australia since the new cartel laws were introduced in July 2019.
- AMP Life: We are acting in a class action in the Federal Court in which members of AMP superannuation funds seek compensation for alleged loss and damage caused by excessive account fees charged by AMP Life.
- ANZ BBSW USA class action: We defended a class action in the Federal Court concerning the bank bill swap rate (BBSW) trading by ANZ and other banks in the United States District Court (New York). The class action has been brought by numerous entities that traded with ANZ and other Australian Banks in financial products referencing the BBSW.
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia/Storm Financial: We acted for CBA in a class action in the Federal Court arising out of the collapse of Storm Financial and its advisory business. The class action was successfully resolved following an eight month trial but before judgment was entered.
- TrustCo/Banksia Securities: We acted for TrustCo, in its capacity as trustee holding security on behalf of the debenture holders of Banksia Services Limited, in a class action in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2012. The class action was successfully resolved at a global mediation in 2014.
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia/Nguyen: We successfully resolved a class action for CBA in the Federal Court, arising out of the financial advisory business and a related ASIC investigation.
- Myer: We acted for Myer, the iconic department store operator, in defending the first shareholder class action to proceed to judgment in Australia. The action was brought in the Federal Court and involved alleged contraventions of continuous disclosure obligations under the Corporations Act and misleading or deceptive conduct regarding the financial performance of Myer in FY15. The court held that notwithstanding certain contraventions had occurred, they did not cause any loss. The judgment was described in the press to be "as landmark as it gets".
- Dick Smith Electronics (DSE): We are acting for two former executive directors of DSE in two class actions brought in the Supreme Court of New South Wales by separate law firms on behalf of two classes of shareholders. The class actions include allegations regarding DSE's financial accounts and statements. The claims are also brought against DSE and Deloitte, as DSE’s auditor.