one - Collective Access to Justice
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 January 2022
In England and Wales today, calls for increasing access to justice are omnipresent. Justice stakeholders have observed at length that the capacity of people to access justice is paramount in a democracy governed by the rule of law. The purview of the current access to justice agenda has thus been quite broad, covering everything from the rise in litigants-in-person – that is, individuals who are representing themselves as opposed to being represented by legal professionals – to the digital modernization of Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service through the use of new technology and the move to online courts and tribunals. Despite this breadth, however, and the commitment of stakeholders to find innovative ways of addressing the accessibility gaps in the justice system, a consistent unifying theme that runs throughout this commitment has been its individuated focus. Research and reform in access to justice has tended to be guided by the belief that justiciable problems affect individuals as private persons and must therefore be addressed through individuated solutions, typically geared at delivering outcomes, whether through public courts or, increasingly, through the private fora of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as arbitration and mediation. This book seeks to advance this agenda by exploring the role of class actions in promoting collective access to justice.
In late modern societies, groups are seeking justice for mass harms that are as diverse as they are widespread: from mass data breaches affecting millions and mass injuries arising out of faulty products to mass labour disputes in the gig economy and mass health impairment from toxic environmental pollution. Such claims are often impractical or irrational to pursue individually against well-resourced opponents, often transnational corporations. The advantages enjoyed by such ‘repeat players’ against ‘one-shotters’, to invoke the classic thesis, has led Marc Galanter to identify the modern class action as a procedure capable of addressing the power imbalances and resource disparities on display in such cases. Galanter goes on to observe that the ‘intensity of opposition to class action legislation … indicates the “haves” own estimation of the relative strategic impact’ of the procedure.
- Collective Access to JusticeAssessing the Potential of Class Actions in England and Wales, pp. 1 - 16Publisher: Bristol University PressPrint publication year: 2021