Fiduciary Obligations of Lawyers in Australian Class Actions: Conflicts between Duties
(2014) 37 UNSW Law Journal 914
25 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2018
Date Written: 2014
The interaction between the demanding requirements of fiduciary obligations and the undemanding requirements of the Australian class action regime in facilitating the aggregation of differing claims creates a challenging environment for legal representation. The solicitor who acts in a class action owes fiduciary obligations to the representative party that is their immediate client. This article finds that the solicitor also owes fiduciary obligations to the group members on whose behalf the class action is brought. Due to the operation of the class action regime many of these group members will be ‘known unknowns’, individually unidentified but identifiable by reference to certain broadly defined characteristics. The solicitor must therefore address a conflict, or real possibility of conflict, of duties. This article explores the existence of such conflicts and how, if at all, the solicitor may discharge his or her fiduciary obligations.
Keywords: Fiduciary obligations, class actions, civil procedure
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