Hundreds of class actions are before the courts in Quebec. They deal with the environment, consumer rights, health and many other issues. You might be part of one or more class actions. But how do you know? What must you do if you are a member of the class?
Automatic, Free Participation
You are automatically a part of a class action if you have a similar problem. The class is described in the decision authorizing the class action. Here is a simplified description of a class:
“Anyone who had a credit card from the XYZ Company between January 1, 2010, and January 1, 2015, and paid fees not mentioned in their credit contract.”
Everyone who fits the description is automatically part of the class action. They don’t have to register or pay anything.
Notice to Members
You can find out about a class action through the notice to members. The notice must include this information:
- who is being sued and why
- a description of the class
- the representative’s name and the lawyer’s contact information
- how to opt out of the class action and the deadline
The notice to members is usually published in newspapers, on websites or in any other way that reaches the largest number of people.
Sometimes, members receive a notice by mail or email if their identity and contact information are known.
Other notices are published for major steps in the class action.
Publishing or sending notices doesn’t guarantee that all members will know about the progress of the case. That’s why there are other ways to stay informed.
To find out if you are part of a class action, you can consult these registries:
- the class action registry of the Superior Court of Québec
- the National Class Action Database of The Canadian Bar Association for class actions across the country. You can take part in class actions in other provinces.
Careful! Consulting these registries can be complex and time-consuming.
If you already know you’re a member of a class, you can get information directly from the law firm handling the class action. You can contact them by phone or through their website.
Sometimes a website is created specifically for a class action.
You’ll know when and how to claim your money if you stay informed.
You must opt out if you don’t want to be part of a class action. For example, you think you can get a better result if you take your own case to court.
The deadline for opting out and what you must do are stated in the first notice to members. The notice is published after a judge authorizes the class action.
If you opt out, you will no longer have the right to get the money that other members might get if the action succeeds. You’ll have to win your own case.