The class actions inquiry’s key recommendations, if converted into law, would be a green light for corporations to rip off customers, harm communities, and lie to investors, according to Class Actions Australia.
The Liberal-dominated inquiry handed down its report today, with its recommendations likely to meet with warm approval from the big business lobby. Class Actions Australia spokesperson Ben Hardwick said while class action lawyers would take time to consider the detail of the report, the broad intention was crystal clear.
“This report is an early Christmas present for corporate criminals,” Mr Hardwick said.
“With corporate watchdogs like ASIC lacking sufficient resources, the only thing keeping corporations vaguely honest right now is the threat of being hit with a class action if they break the law.
“Corporations like banks may not like Royal Commissions, but what they really hate are the class actions that follow. In the past year alone, class actions have forced the big banks, other corporations, and governments to return over one billion dollars to hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians.
“This inquiry was established as a direct result of pressure from American and Australian business lobbyists so these were always the recommendations it was going to serve up.
“The Senate crossbench seems disposed to back ordinary Australians over corporate interests. So there’s hope that sanity prevails and this report is filed in a dusty drawer somewhere where it belongs. Certainly our coalition of class action members, lawyers, and funders are ready to inform the public about what these changes would mean.”
Rebecca Oates joined a class action against Johnson & Johnson over its transvaginal mesh products that left her in agony. She believes her class action was the only way of holding the medical company to justice, which inspired her to join CAA’s Keep Corporations Honest campaign.
“I can’t believe members of the government would go in to bat for American corporate giants like Johnson & Johnson over ordinary Australians,” Ms Oates said.
“Class actions are huge and complicated, but they’re the only mechanism people like me have to fight back when we’ve been hurt by corporations. Normal people can’t afford to fund a huge legal battle themselves, they need entities who can front the resources if they want a shot at justice.”