We have experience in claims arising from all industries including financial services, product liability, cartels and price fixing, securities, and consumer finance and recovery.
We help our clients:
- identify and manage class action risk;
- assess the circumstances and stakeholders in class action litigation and devise a strategy to deal with class actions if they arise;
- understand their options depending on the circumstances of the claim and the stakeholders involved;
- manage any associated regulatory issues; and
- preserve their relationships with their clients and their reputation.
Why should you be concerned about class actions?
We understand the way in which class action plaintiffs' lawyers and their funders operate. We have dealt with them forover 20 years. We see them exploring a greater range of industries, sectors and types of claims to find potential defendants.
With our help, smart businesses are identifying their potential risks, and minimising them.
If class action litigation is commenced, our team can help you to assess the options available to managing the litigation and devise a strategy which focuses on the particular circumstances of the claim.
Over time, we have been involved in the defence of a range of matters where a broad spectrum of appropriate strategies have been deployed - from successful interlocutory strike outs, to successfully defending proceedings in trial and on appeal, to orchestrating innovative resolutions of claims. Each claim is different and needs to be managed as such to ensure an effective and efficient outcome.
One of the most experienced – and successful – class actions defence practice in Australia
No other Australian firm has a greater range and breadth of class action expertise than Clayton Utz, and we have a commanding track record in defending class actions that run to trial.
Our experience covers a broad cross-section of the class action subject-matter that has been conducted in Australia.
Our experience extends to financial services claims, product liability, cartel and price-fixing, securities litigation, and claims arising from consumer finance and recovery.
Managing class action litigation
We've learnt that there's no one right way to manage a class action successfully – your strategy will depend upon the type of claim, your own businesses objectives, and the stakeholders involved.
We help you 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.
If you seek an early resolution, we have developed innovative procedures to negotiate successful and commercially-focused outcomes for you.
If you go to trial, you need a legal team experienced in class action and group claims litigation, because this type of litigation has its own specialised rules, procedures, tactical nuances, and specific legal and practical issues.
Whichever path you choose, we give you the inside edge by:
- foreseeing and dealing with problems before they arise;
- using sophisticated systems, tested by litigation, to handle complex litigation;
- helping change class action laws and procedures; and
- in international matters, experience in working with your global legal team to ensure you have a seamless legal strategy across the world, wherever you're at risk.
Dealing with the regulator
Class action defendants can often find themselves fighting on two fronts: the class action itself, and associated scrutiny or investigations by the regulators.
Using our strong experience with Australian regulators, and the relationships we have developed with them, we help you develop a strategy for dealing with the regulators that complements your strategy for the managing the class action, ensuring you get a cost-effective and commercial result in both areas.
Preserving your reputation – and your relationships with your own clients and customers
A swift response to legal and regulatory action is not enough. We'll give you pragmatic advice and systems to help you navigate adverse media and preserve your reputation, so that you can continue your relationships with your own clients, customers, shareholders, other stakeholders, government regulators, and media commentators.
Product liability class actions
Clayton Utz boasts Australia's premier product liability team. The team acts or acted for the defendants in most of the product liability class actions that have been commenced in Australia, usually as part of a global team.
These include the class actions involving multi-manufacturer breast implants, intrauterine contraceptive devices, benzo-diazapenes, Roaccutane class action, Fen-Phen proceedings, the Helix litigation, implantable cardiac pacemakers, and the recent Vioxx litigation.
Financial institutions and services class actions
The class actions team is regularly called upon by financial services clients to provide strategic advice on risk management, and contentious issues which may evolve into class action litigation.
The team has acted in a broad range of class actions and group proceedings, including the high-profile "exception fees" class action, alleging that exception fees charged by the banks to their respective customers, such as late payment fees, dishonour fees and overlimit fees, amount to a penalty and are otherwise unfair and unconscionable. This is Australia's largest consumer class action.
The team is also acting for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia defending a number of class actions being pursued by consumers as a result of the events of the GFC.
The team has also recently resolved a representative proceedings arising from advice provided by its client's former financial advisers. The matter involved the complex interplay between and ASIC investigation; a remediation program; and the management and defence of the representative proceeding.
Cartel class actions
Clayton Utz acted in the vitamins cartel class action proceedings where our team was able to utilise interlocutory applications to substantially reduce the size of the class, resulting in the discontinuation of three-quarters of the claims.
The team is currently assisting a range of clients across numerous industries in managing class action risk associated with alleged cartel behaviour. We are also acting for one of the airlines involved in the highly publicised alleged air cargo cartel class action.
Securities class actions
Clayton Utz acted in Australia's first securities class action, which involved a claim by some 23,000 shareholders against the company formerly known as GIO Australia Holdings Ltd. The team acted for the former executive chairman of Harris Scarfe Holdings in a claim commenced by shareholders.
The team regularly advises clients, and directors where class action litigation is threatened. We have also advised a number of institutional investors who have sought advice on class action risk, litigation funding agreements and participation in significant class actions, including the Aristocrat class action and AWB class action.
Economic loss class actions
Clayton Utz represents an international airline in the defence of two multi-respondent Federal Court cases. This is one of the substantial number of economic loss class actions being promoted by Australian plaintiffs’ firms.
Acting for an interested offshore insurer, Clayton Utz actively monitored each stage of the Longford proceedings from the Federal Court through to their primary resolution in the Supreme Court of Victoria. This role involved strategic review and advice of the action as it progressed towards settlement against the prospect that the outcome triggered applicable indemnity layers.