What is a group action and how does it work?

Class action v group action claim

The name ‘class actions’ most famously arose across the pond in the United States, growing in popularity in the United Kingdom over the last couple of years due to a number of reforms that have occurred in the legal industry.

You may have seen a number of group actions advertised in the media over the last few years such as the Diesel Emissions claim and the British Airways data breach claim.

Group actions are popular amongst firms of solicitors as they allow for management and determination of several claims within one formal action as opposed to an individual claim, which is of course a lot less maintenance for the solicitors acting.

Class actions are exactly the same as group actions and collective actions. They are simply a group of claimants who wish to make a claim upon the same or similar facts, against one or a number of defendants, as opposed to the conventional way of claiming as an individual.

How to pursue a group action claim

There are a number of ways to pursue a group action in the UK courts. These comprise of claims which can be conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings and bought jointly or consolidated, with the Court exercising overall case management using its ordinary procedural rules, or Group Litigation Orders (‘GLOs’) which provide for several claims where more than one claimant has a cause of action raising common or related issues of fact or law to be grouped together and managed using specific procedural rule, and lastly claims by representative claimants.

The High Court can exercise its case management powers by selecting one or more claims from the group register as test claims, to address specific issues of law or fact. Test claims are likely to be selected on the basis that they represent common characteristics of the other claims on the group register. For example, each test claim may cover a specific industry, size and/or type of claimant, specific time periods and/or heads of loss. This most recently happened in the case of The Financial Conduct Authority v Arch Insurance (UK) Ltd & Others 2021 regarding business interruption arising from closure caused by the various COVID-19 lockdowns, which was appealed and later heard in the Supreme Court in January 2021.

Collective actions are most commonly seen in:

  • Personal injury, negligence and competition claims
  • Product liability disputes
  • Environmental disputes
  • Pensions disputes
  • Financial services/consumer redress

Specters’ experience of group actions

Specters are currently acting on a number of group actions based on professional negligence as well as claims arising from building fires where multiple claimants’ properties and irreplaceable items have been destroyed. We have systems in place that allow for efficient and client focused group claim management and we are open to any suggestions of a group action should you consider yourself and a group to be affected by the negligence/breach of duty of a Defendant.

Administration of the claims

How the group action is organised is something that you and your fellow Claimants can decide upon. In previous experiences of group claims Specters have taken instructions from individual claimants who seek updates/correspond with us individually and on their own accord, or alternatively we can take instructions from a lead claimant who updates their fellow claimants in whichever way they see appropriate. We are happy to conduct the group action either way. In terms of updates, we are happy to arrange a monthly recurring telephone or virtual meeting in order to update the claimants as a group and discuss strategy going forward.

The first stage of setting up the claim notwithstanding the two options above is for us to take contact details of each potential client so that we can set up a case in each of their names and send out initial documentation. In order to start the process therefore we simply need each clients’ contact details so we can make first contact.

Why Specters?

We will be able to provide valuable assistance to your claim as we have over 30 years experience of handling dispute resolution claims. Our Dispute Resolution Solicitor Team is led by three highly experienced Partners of the firm, and also a Senior Consultant. Our Dispute Resolution Team comprises of four assistant lawyers and one paralegal. Members of our team are experienced in breach of contract disputes, commercial and insurance disputes and damage claims arising from fire. Please see our Dispute Resolution website page here for more details.