Class action reform has for some time been a hot topic both in the UK and in Europe, with recent government proposals for a new “opt-out” collective action for competition claims before the Competition Appeal Tribunal (see post) and ongoing debate over the possibility of Europe-wide reform (see post). Hong Kong has also moved closer to introducing a new class actions regime following publication of a Report on Class Actions by its Law Reform Commission on 28 May 2012. The report recommends the introduction of a new class action procedure on an incremental basis, initially only for “consumer cases” – tort and contract claims by consumers in relation to goods, services, and property – but it is expected that the procedure will eventually apply to all claims.
Significantly, the report recommends the adoption of an “opt-out” approach for domestic class actions, pursuant to which all class members would be bound by the litigation unless they had opted out. Such an approach generally results in larger classes, and correspondingly higher value claims, than a procedure which requires potential claimants to make a positive decision to opt in to proceedings. For more information see our Hong Kong litigation e-bulletin.