THE ADVOCATE 415
VOL. 77 PART 3 MAY 2019
By the Honourable David Eby, Q.C.*
With much of the attention in the public and legal profession press focusing
on reforms related to ICBC and ongoing debate about the benefits and costs
of introducing regulated specialist paralegals, significant justice reforms in
the province have gone almost unremarked on. One area of recent reforms
that has not received sufficient attention relates to class action lawsuits in
Most lawyers, and many members of the public, understand that class
action lawsuits can be a significant vehicle for increasing access to justice
by enabling large groups of claimants, often with relatively small claims, to
join together against a defendant.
Well-known examples of class actions have included claims arising from
loss or injury from pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Consumer products
and services are also relatively common subjects of this form of litigation.
In recent years, there have been multiple class actions addressing
harms suffered by Indigenous people, including residential schools, day
schools and the so-called “Sixties Scoop” case concerning the removal of
children from their homes and communities for placement in foster care or
adoption with non-Indigenous families.
Recent amendments to British Columbia’s Class Proceedings Act are
intended to build on these access-to-justice-enhancing aspects of class
actions heard in British Columbia courts, but these new reforms will be successful
only if the profession is aware of them and uses them to assist members
of the public.
The Class Proceedings Act
The arrival of class actions as we now know them in British Columbia is rel-
* The Honourable David Eby, Q.C., is British Columbia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.