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“Class actions” – some ground rules April 23, 2020

Haselhurst v Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Ltd t/as Toyota Australia; Whisson v Subaru (Aust) Pty Ltd; Kularathne v Honda Australia Pty Ltd; Brewster v BMW Australia Ltd; Bond v Nissan Motor Co (Australia) Pty Ltd; Coates v Mazda Australia Pty Ltd; Dwyer v Volkswagen Group Australia Pty Ltd t/as Volkswagen Australia [2020] NSWCA 66 (22 April 2020)

1. An order which destroyed a person’s cause of action within the limitation period, without a hearing and with no guarantee that the person would necessarily know of the outcome or consequence of their failure to register, was not an order that was “necessary to ensure that justice is done in the proceedings” or “appropriate … to ensure that justice is done in the proceedings”: at [12].

BMW Australia Ltd v Brewster [2019] HCA 45;  (2019) 94 ALJR 51 at  [46], [70]; Earglow Pty Ltd v Newcrest Mining Ltd (2015) 230 FCR 469;  [2015] FCA 328 at  [33], discussed and applied. McGuirk v University of New South Wales [2010] NSWCA 104 at  [139], [144], discussed. Money Max Int Pty Ltd v QBE Insurance Group Ltd (2016) 245 FCR 191[2016] FCAFC 148 at  [161], not followed.

Per Payne JA, Bell P, Macfarlan, Leeming JJA and Emmett AJA agreeing:

2. The purpose and effect of order 16 was to effect a contingent extinguishment of unregistered Group Members’ rights of action against the respondents: at [59], [61].

3. Practical considerations may make it desirable to convert an “open” class to a “closed” or fully identified class of Group Members: at [67]. However, existing techniques that produce a class whose members may readily be identified allow those persons who had been Group Members but had ceased to continue to be Group Members to retain their rights to bring a claim against the defendant: at [75].

4. Matthews v SPI Electricity Pty Ltd (No 13) (2013) 39 VR 255;  [2013] VSC 17 is not authority for the proposition that there is power for the Supreme Court of New South Wales to make an order purporting to extinguish the rights of unregistered Group Members in advance of a mediation: at [93].

Matthews v SPI Electricity Pty Ltd (No 13) (2013) 39 VR 255;  [2013] VSC 17, not followed.

5. The construction of Part 10 of the Civil Liability Act preferred by the majority in BMW Australia Ltd v Brewster [2019] HCA 45;  (2019) 94 ALJR 51 is inconsistent with acceptance of the dicta in Melbourne City Investments Pty Ltd v Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (2017) 252 FCR 1;  [2017] FCAFC 98 at  [74]– [75]: at [99].

Melbourne City Investments Pty Ltd v Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (2017) 252 FCR 1;  [2017] FCAFC 98 at  [74]– [75], not followed. BMW Australia Ltd v Brewster [2019] HCA 45;  (2019) 94 ALJR 51, applied.

6. Section 183 of the Civil Procedure Act is not a source of power to do work beyond that done by the specific provisions which the text and structure of the legislation show the section was intended to supplement: at [106].

BMW Australia Ltd v Brewster [2019] HCA 45 at  [70][2019] HCA 45;  (2019) 94 ALJR 51, applied.

7. Section 183 of the Civil Procedure Act is not a source of power to extinguish Group Members rights before settlement of the proceedings (see s 173) or a judgment in the proceedings (see s 177): at [107].

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