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Revisiting Class Actions Against the Crown: Balancing Public and Private Legal Accountability for Government Action

Supreme Court Law Review, Forthcoming

13 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2011  

Lorne Sossin

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Five years ago, I began to notice a trend toward more numerous and wide ranging class actions against the Crown, seeking redress for state action against those claiming they were especially harmed by that action. Some of these class actions – for example, seeking remedies for the Crown’s role in the SARS or Mad Cow outbreaks – sought billions of dollars of damages. Many of these class actions, in my view, involved the review of ministerial decision-making and could have been framed as judicial reviews in the conventional administrative law sense. Was the incentive for mass recovery and soaring contingency fees driving more lawyers to frame unfair or unreasonable government decisions as violating tort and contract standards? Was I witnessing another dimension of access to justice and progressive behaviour modification through class actions, or alternatively, did this trend represent a distortion of public accountability through private claims?

Keywords: Class Actions, Access to Justice, Crown Liability, Class Action Damages, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Government Decision-Making

JEL Classification: K41

Suggested Citation

Sossin, Lorne, Revisiting Class Actions Against the Crown: Balancing Public and Private Legal Accountability for Government Action (2011). Supreme Court Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1948790 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1948790

Lorne Sossin (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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