Class actions (or multiparty litigation/collective actions) can raise tremendous risk – both from a reputational and a financial perspective. As South Africa sees a growing body of class actions emerge, a greater understanding of this area of risk is imperative.
Prior to 1994, class actions were foreign to South African law. The South African Constitution, however, provides standing to approach a court for “anyone acting as a member of, or in the interest of, a group or class of persons". It was originally thought that class actions were limited to constitutional issues; but it is now accepted that these actions are available to private parties as well.
We are well positioned to advise on class actions in the South African context. We can provide solutions across the full risk spectrum and the lifecycle of responding to a class action claim. We focus on proactive and preventative measures to mitigate the risk of an action arising or proceeding beyond a preliminary stage. We assist with strategic experience and tactical know-how in guiding clients from initial planning, to minimising overall exposure to damages and defence costs, to securing the optimal negotiated, mediated or litigated outcome. We also have the benefit of working closely with our alliance partner, Linklaters, which has deep expertise in class actions which are much more established in many other jurisdictions.