Access to a Just Result: Revisiting Settlement Standards and Cy Pres Distributions
The Canadian Class Action Review, Vol. 6, No. 1, April 2010
37 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2010 Last revised: 18 Jan 2011
Date Written: April 1, 2010
Increased access to justice is a key objective of class proceedings. Yet there is no consensus on what the term means in the class action context. This paper engages the access to justice paradigm by exploring the settlement approval phase of a class action. In Part A, the author offers a robust definition of access to justice that includes considerations of substantive justice. In Part B, the prevailing approach to the assessment of the fairness of a settlement is critiqued. Two common criteria in the fairness analysis, the presumption of fairness and a lack of objectors, are argued to be unreliable determinants of a just result. In Part C, the author evaluates a particular form of settlement - a cy pres distribution of settlement proceeds to charities. Such settlements, the author concludes, illustrate why current standards for settlement approval must be revisited in order to promote more meaningful access to justice.
Keywords: class actions, access to justice, settlements
JEL Classification: K10, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation