Herbert Smith Freehills is today launching a new textbook, Class Actions in England and Wales. Written by lawyers from the firm and published by Sweet & Maxwell, it aims to become an essential resource for those bringing or defending class actions in the English courts. Class actions have become increasingly prevalent in this jurisdiction, with growth fuelled in part by the activity of claimant firms and litigation funders. It is an increasingly important area for the firm and its clients.
In the book’s foreword, the Chancellor of the High Court, The Right Honourable Sir Geoffrey Vos, describes the book as “an approachable and insightful text, offering useful summaries of the main authorities and a practical guide to the conduct of a collective action”, which he predicts will “rapidly become invaluable” to lawyers engaged in class action litigation.
The text focuses mainly on the Group Litigation Order procedure, which has been around for some 18 years and has been used in a wide variety of cases, leading to the development of a significant body of case law. There are however few if any publications that seek to bring together this material, and this textbook hopes to fill that gap.
The book provides guidance on the early issues to be considered in relation to the commencement of a group action, including the process for obtaining a GLO, the content of a GLO, establishing the group register and the claimant group, and dealing with statements of case. It also covers: the conduct of a group action and the particular challenges that arise in relation to case management, disclosure and evidence; how group actions are tried, with particular consideration of preliminary issues and test claims; the effect of judgments and orders; and how group actions are settled. Jurisdiction, choice of law and enforcement issues are also addressed in some detail, as are issues relating to costs and funding.
The text devotes specific chapters to three areas that are becoming increasingly important, with a number of high profile and high value claims being brought. These are: shareholder claims; environmental or human rights based claims against businesses; and competition claims in the Competition Appeal Tribunal under the opt-out procedure introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The book has been co-edited and co-authored by partners Damian Grave and Gregg Rowan and professional support consultant Maura McIntosh. The other co-authors are 9 of the firm’s leading partners: Damien Byrne Hill; Simon Clarke; Kim Dietzel; Harry Edwards; Adam Johnson QC; Kirsten Massey; John Ogilvie; Donny Surtani; and Stephen Wisking; as well as former senior associate Molly Herron, who is now Senior Legal Counsel, Antitrust EMEA at Novartis.