Readers undoubtedly are familiar with ISS Securities Class Action Services’ annual report on the Top 100 Securities Class Action Settlements, focusing on the largest U.S. securities lawsuit settlements. The most recent Top 100 report is discussed here. ISS Securities Class Action Services has now published a list of the largest Canadian securities class action lawsuit settlements. The Canadian report, which is entitled “The Top 25 Canadian Class Action Settlements of All-Time,” reflects a number of interesting findings, and can be found here.
The report is based on a database of 172 Canadian securities class action lawsuits filed since 1997. Of the 172 cases, 91 have settled, 60 are pending, and 21 have been dismissed. From the 91 settlements, the report’s authors have culled the 25 largest. All of the settlement amounts are reported in Canadian dollars. The report is as of May 31, 2018.
As might be expected, the dollar value of the recoveries in the list of the top Canadian settlements “falls well below that of their U.S. counterparts.” Only three of the top Canadian settlements would be large enough to make the list of top 100 U.S. settlements. The largest settlement on the Canadian list is the 2006 $986.3 million settlement in the Nortel Networks case. (The Nortel Networks settlement represents, according to the report, “the 15th largest of all time in North America.”) The next largest settlement on the Canadian list is the 2008 $490.6 million settlement in the Portus Alternative Asset Management case. The third largest settlement on the Canadian list is the $154.7 million settlement in the Sino-Forest Corporation settlement.
Only four of the settlements on the Canadian list are over $100 million. The values fall off pretty quickly after that; only 16 of the settlements on the list are over $20 million. The 25th largest settlement on the list is just $12.9 million.
It should be noted that there is one larger pending settlement at the “tentative settlement” stage that, if approved, would both be among the ten largest Canadian securities class action lawsuit settlements. The pending $110 million settlement in the SNC-Lavalin Group, Inc. case, if approved, would represent the fifth largest Canadian securities class action lawsuit settlement.
While the Canadian settlement figures in many respects represent dollar values below the comparable list of U.S. settlements, the Canadian settlement nevertheless represent very significant recovery amounts. The top 25 settlements “have resulted in a total pool of $2.3 billion for shareholders, with $1.63 billion already distributed.” The pending settlements described in the preceding paragraph will even further increase these figures. Interestingly, of the top 25 settlements, four were the result of a settlement with an action first filed in the U.S.
The top 25 Canadian settlements were largely resolved in Canada’s three largest provinces. 52% were resolved in Ontario, 31% were resolved in Quebec, and 7% were resolved in British Columbia.
At the top end of the list, the settlement values are as large as some of the largest settlements on the Top 100 settlement list. However, there is something very interesting about the top settlements on the Canadian list. Of the top five largest, only one was finalized the last ten years. Four of the top five were finalized in 2008 or earlier. The one exception, the $154.7 million Sino-Forest settlement, was finalized in 2013. To be sure, if approved, the pending SNC-Lavalin Group settlement, would move into fifth place on the list but the list will still reflect that many of the largest settlements were finalized a decade or more ago.
The report attempts to detail the largest settlements by industry, but the industry segmentation is a little bit opaque. For example, 12 of the top 25 settlements are described as involving companies in the “other” category, and four more are described only as in the “private company” category. Of the remaining settlements, the largest categories are precious metal mining (3), life insurance (2), mortgage finance (2), and fabricated metal and hardware (2).
The report also details the Top 25 settlements by the plaintiff law firm involved. Because a number of settlements involve co-lead counsel firms, the totals on the list exceed 25. The plaintiff firm with the highest number of settlements is Siskinds, with 14. The Siskinds firm also had an additional 9 settlements with the Desmueles firm.
The report includes several interesting comments from Canadian plaintiffs’ lawyers, including the comment of one attorney that “we expect the number of securities class actions filed and settled in Canada to steadily grow in the next five years.” The same commentator goes on to say that “The reluctance of U.S. courts to take jurisdiction over persons who purchased their securities on overseas exchanges will be a key drive in this shift.” The inference seems to be that Canada will be a magnet for cases that could not be brought in the U.S.
The report’s text concludes with an interesting observation that along with the U.S., Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and the Netherlands represent the top five markets for securities class action litigation.