The Evidence on Securities Class Actions

76 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2004

See all articles by Stephen J. Choi

Stephen J. Choi

New York University School of Law

Date Written: April 7, 2004


This article examines the theoretical issues and surveys the evidence on the desirability of securities class actions. Class actions offer the promise of energizing private enforcement of the securities laws, including in particular antifraud liability. For shareholders of large, publicly-held corporations, the individual benefits of pursuing a fraud action are often outweighed by the considerable costs of litigation. Without a class action, many potential fraud lawsuits may simply not get litigated. Nonetheless, the article explores three related problems with class actions: (a) the problem of frivolous suits (and the need to allow meritorious suits); (b) the lack of incentives on the part of plaintiffs' attorneys to focus on smaller companies; and (c) the agency problem between plaintiffs' attorneys and the plaintiff class. The article then assesses the existing evidence from the United States (in particular on the impact of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) in addressing these problems and proposes future avenues for research. Understanding the impact of class actions is important not only for the U.S. but also for countries considering the adoption of a U.S.-style securities class action system. As an example, the article discusses whether securities class actions would be beneficial in South Korea, a country with a smaller capital market and fewer large companies compared with the United States.

Keywords: securities, litigation, class actions, korea

JEL Classification: K23, K42

Suggested Citation

Choi, Stephen J., The Evidence on Securities Class Actions (April 7, 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Stephen J. Choi (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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