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A class action is a powerful legal procedural tool which allows a party to sue as a representative of a larger class. By aggregating claims in this way, ordinary Canadians are given the means to fight injustice against wrongdoers, which are usually large, multi-national corporations.
The Class Proceeding Act, 1992, S.O. 1992, c. 6 governs class actions commenced in Ontario. Since coming into force in 1993, countless ordinary Canadians have seen its promise. Victims of defective drugs, medical devices, securities misrepresentations and mass disasters have all benefited from class actions in Canada. Just as importantly, class actions have given a voice to Canadians who might never have been able to afford a lawyer otherwise.
The purpose of class action legislation is to help level the legal playing field between big corporations and average people. The goals of class actions have been summarized by Canadian courts as follows:
Frequently Asked Questions - Class Actions
||Access to justice: i.e., to give people who might not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer a chance to have their day in court;
||Judicial economy: i.e., to save court costs in the handling of large cases, involving many injured people;
||Behaviour modification: i.e., to deter corporate wrongdoing, and to force corporations to pay for any harm they have caused.