New Publication : Consumer Collective Redress In Canada

Please find a new publication in Japanese Yearbook of International Law co-written by prof. Catherine Piché and prof. Geneviève Saumier regarding consumer collective redress in Canada

Summary : 

Consumer collective redress is broadly available in Canada, allowing for compensation in damages for widespread economic or physical injuries caused by defective goods or services, or by unfair business practices. Through the procedural mechanism of the opt-out class action, consumers across the country can access local courts to obtain redress against domestic or foreign defendants. This possibility also gives consumers negotiating power to reach out of court settlements with defendants. This general uniformity in policy regarding consumer collective redress is mitigated, however, by the fact that civil procedure, and substantive private law, are within provincial legislative competence. As a result, the precise legal landscape for consumer collective redress varies throughout the country and gives rise to some important distinctions depending on where such redress is sought.

This contribution will present a general overview of consumer collective re- dress in Canada. It will also provide some indications of the diversity of procedural approaches that can be found across the country. The first part will set out the particular legislative context that impacts the way in which consumer collective redress operates in Canada. The second part will then focus more specifically on consumer collective redress mechanisms. It will include an examination of the main features of the class action process, including notice and opt-outs, costs and funding, representation and the supervisory role of the judge as well as a more 

detailed presentation of the process for instituting class proceedings. A final part will address the additional considerations involved when redress is sought in a transborder context, that is, where consumer claims from more than one juris- diction are aggregated into a single class action.

Overall, the opportunities for consumer collective redress in Canada are undeniable. Such claims continue to be brought almost exclusively by way of class actions for which damages are commonly awarded, through a judgment or a court- approved settlement, thereby benefitting aggrieved consumers directly.1 The diversity of procedural regimes across the country remains an irritant, as do the long delays associated with class proceedings. Still, from an outsider’s perspective, the Canadian landscape may reasonably be considered to provide significant access to justice to consumers.

This content has been updated on April 10, 2019 at 9:08 am.