Resolving Mass Disputes

Resolving Mass Disputes

ADR and Settlement of Mass Claims

Edited by Christopher Hodges and Astrid Stadler

The landscape of mass litigation in Europe has changed impressively in recent years, and collective redress litigation has proved a popular topic. Although much of the literature focuses on the political context, contentious litigation, or how to handle cross-border multi-party cases, this book has a different focus and a fresh approach.

Chapter 6: Class actions and settlement culture in Canada

Jasminka Kalajdzic

Subjects: economics and finance, law and economics, law - academic, arbitration and dispute resolution, comparative law, consumer law, law and economics, law and society


Corporate and governmental wrongdoing can affect large numbers of people. Such wrongdoing has an institutional victim as well; mass harm exerts enormous pressure on civil justice systems to provide efficient but fair procedures for redress. In this context, settlement of mass disputes is easily understood as a common good. Yet settlements involving hundreds or thousands of claims, often across jurisdictions, raise concerns about the substantive fairness of the compromise reached by lawyers, and the ability of the court system to ensure meaningful oversight. Unburdening the judicial system of mass claims comes at a price; how much rough justice are we prepared to accept? As the contributions to this book illustrate, the difficulty of balancing these competing interests is ubiquitous. Canadian class action settlement practice is no exception. In this chapter, I first explore the realities of this form of litigation, and to some extent debunk the myth that class actions inevitably result in large monetary settlements. I then turn to a brief discussion of the incentives and disincentives to settle large claims, for both plaintiffs’ lawyers and defendants. In Part III, I describe and critique the judicial framework for the approval of proposed settlements.

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