Human Resources Legislative Update
Ontario Moves Forward with Amendments to the Class Proceedings Act, 1992
Date: September 22, 2020
Recent reforms to Ontario’s class action regime will come into effect on October 1, 2020.
Ontario’s Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020 (Act), which received Royal Assent on July 8, 2020, amends various statutes related to the province’s courts and justice system. Schedule 4 of the Act makes significant revisions to the Class Proceedings Act, 1992 (CPA), which had remained largely unchanged since it came into force nearly three decades ago.
The amendments to the CPA have been proclaimed into force effective October 1, 2020, along with related regulations recently filed (O. Reg. 495/20, O. Reg. 496/20, O. Reg. 497/20, and O. Reg. 498/20).
These amendments follow some recommendations made by the Law Commission of Ontario in its 2019 report after extensive consultation with stakeholders. According to the Attorney General, the purpose of the reforms is to make class actions more fair, transparent and efficient.
The revisions to the CPA set to come into force next month include:
- a more onerous test for certification, with a stricter “preferable procedure” requirement under s. 5(1)(d) of the CPA
- a requirement for plaintiffs to register proposed class proceedings
- the introduction of provisions to coordinate multi-jurisdictional class actions
- requirements that courts hear dispositive motions and motions to narrow the issues prior to or simultaneous with the certification motion
- mandatory dismissal for delay if certain specified criteria are met
- stricter requirements for court approval of class action settlements, including a requirement that settlements be fair, reasonable and in the best interests of class members
- a framework to increase the transparency regarding third-party funding arrangements, and
- enabling both plaintiffs and defendants to directly appeal certification orders to the Court of Appeal.
The amended CPA will provide a more robust framework for assessing whether claims are well-suited for certification. The amendments also encourage defendants to use pre-certification motions to dispose of frivolous claims or narrow issues at an earlier stage of litigation.
If you have any questions about these changes, please contact any member of Hicks Morley’s litigation team.