Date Published 16/04/2018
There has been debate in Irish and political circles for many years in relation to whether legislation should be introduced to permit class action litigation.
On 9 November 2017, Sinn Fein introduced the Multi-Party Actions Bill 2017 in the Dáil which provides that cases which involve multiple parties (whether as plaintiffs or defendants) that are deemed to have related issues of fact or law can be certified as a multi-party action by the Court. The Bill envisages that all multi-party actions will be brought in the High Court irrespective of their individual value.
Under the Bill, a party wishing to have their proceedings certified as a multi-party action must: –
- consult with the Courts Service to see whether a previously certified multi-party action is relevant.
- If no previously certified multi-party action is relevant that party can bring a motion seeking such certification.
- The President of the High Court will nominate a Judge who will deal with the certification application and in determining whether or not to certify the action, the Judge must consider whether in light of the common or related issues of fact or law arising:-
- that there are or likely to be multiple cases with related issues which would give rise to a multi-party action; and
- whether the multi-action procedure offers an appropriate, fair and efficient procedure for the resolution of the multi-party action issue.
If the proceedings are certified:-
- the Judge will make an order to be known as a Multi-Party Action Order, establishing a Register which would set out issues that related cases are likely to have in common as well as the criteria needed to be met in order for a party to join the multi-party action and set a date after which parties may not be added to the action.
- The Judge may give directions on publicising the multi-party action order. The Judge may also give directions specifying the details to be included in the documents grounding an application for entry of proceedings on the Register.
- A party who wishes to join a multi-party action must issue proceedings and apply to the nominated Judge to be entered on the Register.
Appointing a solicitor: –
The parties to a multi-party action shall endeavour to agree on the appointment of one or more lead solicitors for the action. However, if the parties cannot come to an agreement, or if the Judge does not approve the agreed solicitor/s, the Judge will then take submissions from the parties and appoint a lead solicitor/s accordingly.
The costs of the multi-party action will be divided equally among the members of the Register who shall be jointly and severally liable for costs.
The bill has now proceeded to the Committee stage.
The Clerkin Lynch litigation department has a strong track record in large multi-party litigation disputes. Please contact Niall Clerkin on 01 611 4400 for further information.