Issues in class actions
Tuesday 14 March 2017
The College of Law City
|CPD||6 CPD units|
Class actions: the latest trends & developments
Speaker: Jenny Campbell, Partner, Allens
Class action risk is now a major concern for corporate boards, senior management and in-house counsel.
In this session, Jenny will:
- Look at the current class action landscape in Australia
- Consider potential agents for change
- Provide practical guidance for understanding and managing class action risk
Overseas trends in class actions
Speakers: Christine Monnox and Lucy Minter, Maurice Blackburn
Australian class actions take place within the wider international class action landscape – and influence, and are influenced by, developments overseas.
In this session, Christine and Lucy will consider overseas trends in class actions, with a particular focus on:
- England & Wales
- The rest of Europe
- New Zealand
- The United States
Environmental and Government class actions
Speaker: John Emmerig, Partner, Jones Day
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on class actions against government (Federal, State, Local) and class actions linked to environmental events (bushfires, floods and contamination, among other areas).
In this session, John will:
- review the key cases involving Federal and State governments, and the range and diversity of these actions;
- discuss the special issues that arise in defending government class action litigation;
- analyse the major class actions involving environmental issues; and
- offer guidance on some key practical lessons for the management and resolution of these forms of class actions.
Class actions and social utility: an ethical perspective
Speaker: Stewart A Levitt, Partner, Levitt Robinson Solicitors
Stewart will explore a range of ethical issues relating to class actions, including:
- What do class actions achieve if so many are settled before trial?
- What public interest is served if the claims are focussed on loopholes or technicalities and the group members are barely conscious of the issues being addressed?
- Are the financial benefits of class actions unduly skewed in favour of lawyers and funders?
- The vulnerability of lead applicants and how that impacts on the selection of the lead applicants and the group’s ability to advance their best case
Managing the issues and pitfalls which can arise at the approval stage
Speaker: Brett Imlay, Special Counsel, Levitt Robinson Solicitors
In this session, Brett will consider legal and practical issues that can arise at the approval stage including with respect to the following:
- Notifications to group members
- Whether the settlement is fair and reasonable
- Whether the settlement is in the interests of group members as a whole
- Dealing with group member objections
- The biggest of all pitfalls - intervention by ASIC
Litigation funding for class actions: a new paradigm?
Speaker: Wayne Attrill, Senior Investment Manager, IMF Bentham, Sydney
This session will cover the following:
- The litigation funding market in Australia.
- The role of litigation funding in class action litigation: how important has litigation funding been to the development of class actions in Australia?
- The efficient use of the Courts' resources: closed classes and competing class actions, case management developments and the arrival of common funds.
- Issues on the horizon: the development of common fund standards, Courts’ oversight of funders, financial regulation, contingency fees and international trends.
Jenny is a partner in the Commercial Litigation Department of Allens. She specialises in managing commercial disputes, with a particular focus on class actions and financial services litigation.
Jenny has a wealth of experience in defending class actions. She played a key role in the defence of the Aristocrat shareholder class action (the first securities class action in Australia to proceed to trial) and is currently acting in the shareholder class action against Leighton Holdings. She has also acted for ABN AMRO and Commonwealth Bank of Australia in separate class actions relating to structured financial products and on Westpac's defence of the bank fees class actions. She also writes and presents extensively on issues relating to class actions and litigation funding.
Partner, Jones Day
John Emmerig is one of Australia's leading litigation lawyers. He has 27+ years' experience in high-stakes, large-scale, and test case litigation, representing the interests of global and Australian corporations, financial institutions, and governments.
John's core areas are: (1) class action defence, (2) "bet the company" level commercial disputes, and (3) government litigation (including regulator investigations). Prior to joining Jones Day in December 2012, he was the national head of the class actions practice and the senior government litigation partner at another international law firm.
John is a leader in Australian class action litigation — with 20+ years' (defence-side) experience spanning shareholder, financial products, government, environmental, and products liability class actions. He co-chairs the Class Actions Committee of the Law Council of Australia and is the lead author of the Class Actions section of the Federal Court Practice Manual.
STEWART A LEVITT
Principal, Levitt Robinson Solicitors
Stewart has had wide international legal experience, strategising and managing litigation in the US, South Africa and PNG as well as here.
He is known as one of Australia’s leading practitioners in securities class actions, banking/finance and insolvency litigation, having instigated and conducted the Storm Financial litigation against major banks. He is not only an industry leader but a prominent public commentator and person of influence, having effectively campaigned for policy reforms, as the author of comprehensive submissions to Federal parliamentary enquiries on institutional and regulatory failures during the GFC (2009), and on the role of ASIC (2013). He has played a key role in the 7-Eleven exposé.
Acting for company directors and private businessmen, on board, partnership and joint venture disputes, negotiating complex contracts focused on logistics in the mining industry, and frequently appearing in criminal and commercial courts, Stewart is not only a versatile lawyer but also a tenacious and skilful litigator, with exceptional tactical and advocacy skills.
He has appeared both with and without Counsel in the High Court of Australia.
Stewart has acted as legal counsel for several European consular legations in Sydney. He has also written speeches for significant Australian and foreign politicians and media releases for significant individuals and corporations.
Stewart represented indigenous leader, Lex Wotton, at his trial in connection with the 2004 Palm Island Riot and in Wotton’s challenge to the constitutionality of Queensland Corrective Services legislation in the High Court, as well as currently, in Class Action Litigation against the State of Queensland over “institutional racism”.
Stewart has successfully undertaken Land & Environment Court Appeals and Human Rights cases, and has acted in many pro bono matters, particularly for indigenous people seeking justice from the criminal law, in northern Australia. He is a former member of the NSW Equal Opportunity Tribunal.
Special Counsel, Levitt Robinson Solicitors
Brett worked at Freehills and Packer and Austin before joining Stewart Levitt in 2002.
Specialising in major commercial litigation including Class Actions, Brett has successfully represented large financial institutions and corporations as well as smaller litigants in claims against such bodies.
Brett performs with discipline and industry and is adept in organising and managing a team in the conduct of major litigation.
He had primary conduct of the bitterly contested Richards v Macquarie Bank Class Action proceedings which arose out of the collapse of Storm Financial Ltd, both at trial and during the settlement approval process. He has also lead and coordinated the Levitt Robinson team acting for the Administrator of the $82.5 Million settlement fund.
Brett has also successfully taken the primary role in documenting, and securing Court approval of, the settlement of the Lee v Bank of Queensland Class Action proceedings , which also arose out of the collapse of Storm Financial.
Apart from the Storm Financial Class Actions, his successes include taking on the Reserve Bank of Australia under the Trade Practices Act, Sunland over the Palazzo Versace Development on the Gold Coast and in proceedings against the Fujitsu Corporation over defective hard drives.
Brett has had the successful conduct of many interesting and complex matters including:
- Lee v Bank of Queensland Limited  FCA 1376 (16 December 2014)
- Richards v Macquarie Bank Limited (No 5)  FCA 1442 (13 December 2013)
- Cassis & Anor v Kalfus (No 2)  NSWCA 315 (20 September 2004)
- Permfox Pty Ltd, in the Matter of Chase v Official Receiver for the Bankruptcy District of New South Wales  FCA 1564
- Miller v Jones  NSWCA 467 (17 December 1999)
- Peter Sykes & Ors v Reserve Bank of Australia  FCA 1405 (6 November 1998)
Investment Manager, IMF Bentham
Wayne Attrill is a senior Investment Manager in Australia’s leading litigation funder, IMF Bentham Limited. He managed IMF Bentham's involvement in shareholder class actions against Centro, which were settled for a record $150 million in May 2012. He is a permanent member of IMF’s Investment Committee, which approves the funding of major cases by IMF Bentham, and is currently responsible for IMF Bentham’s funding of claims in Europe against Standard & Poor’s and Royal Bank of Scotland and in Australia against Treasury Wine Estates.
Wayne has written extensively on litigation funding in Australia and overseas, and has expertise in the funding and management of large-scale litigation as a solicitor, in-house counsel, consultant and litigation funder in a range of roles in New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
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