PIAC has urged the Commonwealth Parliament not to reduce access to justice for individuals through regulation of litigation funding or class actions. In a submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Corporations and Financial Services inquiry into litigation funding and class actions, which is considering further regulation of the litigation funding and class action system, we have highlighted the important role litigation funding plays in enabling our clients to pursue public interest cases.
‘Litigation funding is crucial to those who want to challenge unfair decisions of corporations or governments and improve the system for others. Individuals rarely have the deep pockets of big organisations and can’t take on the financial risk of litigation alone,’ said PIAC Senior Solicitor, Ellen Tilbury.
‘PIAC works with a number of litigation funders committed to supporting social justice, and their support has allowed us to pursue many cases which have had great outcomes for our clients and have resulted in systemic changes which benefit the wider community.’
PIAC’s submission also points to the importance of class actions for allowing individuals, each of whom might have small claims, to enforce their rights against defendants where that might not otherwise be possible.
‘Class actions can level the playing field between well-resourced large organisations and vulnerable individuals who would not have been comfortable taking action on their own. It means those individuals, as plaintiffs, can keep decision-makers accountable.’
Any proposals to reform the regulation of litigation funding or class actions should balance the desire to protect individuals engaging with the system with the important benefits that access to class actions and litigation funding can provide to prospective plaintiffs and to public interest litigation.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee is due to deliver its report in December 2020. PIAC’s submission is available here.