US corporate lobbyists interfering with Australians’ right to fight

The unprecedented interference of the powerful and notorious US Chamber of Commerce in the Australian political process should be rejected by all parliamentarians, according to plaintiff law firm Slater and Gordon.

As revealed today, the powerful US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is spending millions to lobby Australian politicians to hobble the capacity of Australians to sue corporations through class actions. The ILR has employed former Clayton Utz partner, Liberal Party member, and former Law Council President Stuart Clark as its local lobbyist.

The US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform is currently running a global campaign to water down the rights of ordinary citizens in foreign jurisdictions to sue corporations through class actions. The US Chamber of Commerce has deep links to Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

Australia has become a key target for the US-led campaign, after a series of wins for ordinary Australians against corporations, including a victory against US-based pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for faulty pelvic mesh implants. New Victorian laws to allow contingency fees, going before the state’s upper house on Thursday, are a current area of focus for the ILR.

“The American political system is in tatters precisely because of big money corporate interference from the likes of the US Chamber of Commerce working against the interests of ordinary people. Australian MPs should reject this American interference out of hand,” said Head of Class Actions at Slater and Gordon, Ben Hardwick.

“The US corporate lobby has its eye on Australia. If you’re an ordinary person who has been hurt or ripped off by a corporate giant, you can fight for compensation through a class action in Australia.

“Taking on corporate giants with class actions is incredibly expensive and risky, because those giants fight back with armies of lawyers. So funding options need to exist or class actions won’t exist. The US Chamber of Commerce knows this, which is why they’re fighting so hard to ban funding options in Australia.

“Our politicians should slam their doors in the face of any lobbyist representing the US Chamber of Commerce – especially when that lobbyist is trying to make it easier for corporations to get away with harming ordinary Australians.

“The fact that they have employed a former President of the Law Council of Australia in Mr Clark as their local gun for hire should be of deep concern, especially when Mr Clark was actually arguing for the benefits of contingency fees some years ago.

“Mr Clark should at least come clean: how much is the US Chamber of Commerce paying him to represent their corporate interests in Australia?”

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