This treatise explores the legal policy and reasoning behind the mandatory judicial approval of class action settlements, the process by which it is sought and obtained, the currently relevant factors and indicia of settlement fairness which support all decisions to approve, and the roles of the principal settlement actors, particularly the settlement judge. It suggests reform recommendations applicable to these approval processes, roles of the actors and standard of settlement fairness. These recommendations are tested, for their plausibility, against empirical data obtained from the qualitative interviews of seventeen judges conducted by the author in four target jurisdictions that have similar approaches to class action settlement approvals, and where class action litigation activity is heavy: Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and the United States federal courts.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface: Research Methodology and Summary of Data
- Choice of Method
- Qualitative Interview Methodology
- Specific Analytical Approach: Testing The Plausibility of Reform Hypotheses
- Limitations to Project
Chapter I: Class Action Settlement Dynamics: Laws and Processes
- Class Action Settlement Laws
- Class Action Settlement Processes
- Reforming Class Action Settlement Processes: An Informed, Transparent and Economical Process of Settlement Evaluation and Approval
Chapter II: Class Action Settlement Actors: Who Protects Whom?
- The Relationships Created by and Between Class Representatives, Class Counsel and the Absent Class Members
- The Roles and Responsibilities of Class Action Settlement Judges
- Reforming the Roles of Class Representatives and Class Counsel
Chapter III: Class Action Settlement Fairness
- Fairness Hearing Doctrine in North American Courts
- Re-Categorization of The Relevant Fairness Factors
- Inadequacy of The Current Judicial Review Process of Class Action Settlements
- In Search of a Clearer Standard of Settlement Fairness
- Judicial Practices; Or Making Sense Of "Fairness"
- Reforming the Standard of Settlement Fairness: A Fair Settlement is a Substantively and Procedurally Fair Deal Reached by Adequate Representatives, Consistently With Class Action Objectives
Conclusion: Three Hats, Three Major Reform Recommendations; or The Road to Fair Processes and Just Outcomes in Class Action Settlements
Table of Cases