Australian class action litigation

As I have detailed in prior posts on this blog, securities class action litigation is well-established in Australia. According to a recent report from ISS Securities Class Action Services, securities class action litigation has grown “markedly” in the last ten years, to the point that outside North America, Australia “is the jurisdiction in which a corporation is most likely to find itself defending against a class action,” and indeed other than the U.S., Australia “is pulling ahead of almost all other countries in terms of active securities class action cases before the courts.” There are however important differences between the Australian and U.S. class action systems, and some of these difference post important challenges for both the courts and for litigants – and indeed have led to calls for reform. The October 23, 2018 report, entitled “Navigating the Australian Securities Class Action Landscape,” can be found here.
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Francis Kean

Regular readers of this blog know that class action litigation is an important part of the Australian liability environment. Although comparisons between the Australian class action system and the U.S. system are frequent, there are important differences in class action litigation in the two legal systems, particularly with respect to securities class action litigation. In the following guest post, Francis Kean, Executive Director in Willis Towers Watson’s FINEX Global, takes a look at important differences in claims against issuer companies between the two legal systems and the important implications of these differences for purposes of D&O insurance coverage. This guest post is based on Francis’s original post on the Willis Towers Watson Wire blog. I would like to thank Francis for his willingness to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Francis’s guest post.
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In the third-largest securities class action settlement ever in Australia, QBE Insurance has agreed to settle the securities suit pending in the Federal Court of Australia and filed against the company on behalf of QBE investors related to the sharp share price decline the company experienced in December 2013. The amount of the settlement is A$ 132.5 million (US$ 103.5).The company admitted no liability in connection with the settlement. The settlement is subject to Court approval. A copy of QBE’s December 28, 2017 market statement regarding the settlement can be found here.
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In numerous prior posts, I have noted the phenomenon of securities suits following on in the wake of governmental regulatory or enforcement action. This phenomenon is well-established in the U.S.  Now it apparently is catching on outside the U.S. as well. Earlier this week, an Australia plaintiffs’ law firm filed a securities suit in an Australian court against Crown Resorts, Ltd. relating to the decline in the company’s share price that followed after Chinese authorities arrested several company employees on gambling- related charges.
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australiaClass actions have been a big deal in the U.S. for a long time now, but what is really interesting is that class actions (and other forms of collective action) are now becoming a big deal outside of the U.S. One place in particular where class actions have become a very big deal indeed is in Australia. As detailed in a recent study, class actions have in recent years become a well-established part of Australia’s litigation landscape. Recent judicial developments seem likely to make Australia an even more attractive jurisdiction for class action litigation.
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ausmapAs I have noted in prior posts, in recent years, there has been a significant growth in shareholder class action litigation in Australia. There are a number of reasons for this development; among other things, Australia’s class action regime is, by comparison to the procedures available in many other jurisdictions, plaintiff-friendly. For these and other reasons, according to a recent law firm memo, Australia may be poised to become “the forum of choice for plaintiffs seeking redress in the world of securities class actions.” The June 27, 2016 memo, which is written by the Quinn Emanuel law firm and is entitled “Australia: An Increasingly Attractive Plaintiffs’ Forum for Securities Class Actions,” and raises a number of interesting questions, as discussed below, and can be found here.
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ausThere were a number of key class action litigation developments in Australia during 2014, according to a recent memo from the Jones Day law firm. Among other things, there were significant developments in particular in the securities class action litigation arena, according to the memo. The memo, which is entitled “Class Actions in Australia: 2014