Consumer claims now dominate class actions in Australia for the first time in over a decade and the banking sector is not plaintiffs’ biggest target, according to a class action report by corporate law firm Allens.
Overall, class action claims were down 13% over the year, but the short-to-medium term trend is for markedly increased filings compared with five years ago, according to Allens’ Class Action Risk 2022 report.
In terms of the type of class action, consumer claims dominated, making up nearly a quarter of the total, followed by claims by employees, with shareholders third. In fact, securities class actions—once the most common—have fallen to their lowest levels in a decade: 15% of the total.
“Listed companies are still at risk from shareholder claims, but this is arguably changing in the wake of regulatory reform and a lack of success for plaintiffs in decided cases,” the report stated.
“In addition to consumer claims, the focus continues to be on the increasing scope for class actions concerning climate change issues and environmental damage.”
Those sectors most targeted in 2021 were governments, followed by healthcare, then banking and financial services.
Allens expects consumer claims to continue to dominate.
These claims often follow action by regulators, and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission continue to have “sharp consumer protection focus,” the report said.