Phil Newland, founder and director of LPF Group, New Zealand’s leading litigation funder, said the principles of access to justice are critical to LPF, yet because legal action can be expensive, uncertain, and take a long time, it can be out of reach for most ordinary New Zealanders.
“The Supreme Courts’ decision in Ross v Southern Response embraces the important principles and outlines the advantages class actions have in improving access to justice, facilitating the efficient use of the justice system, and strengthening the incentive for defendants to comply with the law,” says Mr Newland.
“While this decision will enable more people with credible claims to access justice, it is imperative defendants, and their insurers, are not permitted to abuse Court processes and use the concepts of opt-in and opt-out as an opportunity to delay proceedings and add extra costs to plaintiffs’ legal actions.
“In our experience, well-funded defendants, and their insurance companies, will often seek ways to unnecessarily make legal action more challenging for deserving plaintiffs, which fundamentally undermines the principles of access to justice.
“In their decision, the Supreme Court confirmed that class actions can be brought on an opt-out basis and are a valid mechanism to allow those who have suffered loss to hold the people responsible for those losses, to account through the legal system.”
Mr Newland adds “We were pleased the Supreme Court stressed that class actions provide particular advantages in improving access to justice – ‘to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of proceedings’. This position strongly supports a legal environment that is fair and equitable for both plaintiffs and defendants.