The Queensland Government has recently passed legislation which brings Queensland into line with the Federal Court and the Supreme Courts of New South Wales and Victoria in relation to class actions. Whereas Queenslanders were previously forced to pursue class actions through other jurisdictions, they will now be able to commence such action in their own court system. The Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Yvette D’Ath, noted that these changes will increase access to justice by decreasing the cost, complexity, and inconvenience for Queenslanders. D’Ath also commented that this will allow Queensland-based disputes to now be adjudicated by Queensland judges and lawyers – those who have the greatest level of expertise in relation to Queensland law.
The key components of the regime are as follows:
– A single “representative” is required to bring the claim on behalf of group members who are similarly situated to the representative;
– Seven or more persons are required in order to commence an action under the regime. These persons must share a claim based on a substantial common issue of either law or fact and arising out of similar circumstances; and
– All potential members of the group must be notified of the claim but have a right to opt out by a certain date. If they do not do so, then they are automatically bound by the proceeding’s result.
Litigation heavy-weight Herbert Smith Freehills has recently provided their analysis on the changes, predicting the following implications as a result of the new legislation:
– Greater development of class action practices amongst Queensland law firms due to ability to litigate such actions locally and according to Queensland law and court procedure;
– A potential increase in the use of litigation steps such as preliminary discovery or test cases in relation to exploring the potential viability of a class action dispute; and
– A continued increase in class actions concerning negligence and breach of contract claims (as has been seen across Australia) on issues such as data breaches and negligent financial advice.
Impact on expert witnesses
Given the frequent use of expert witnesses in class actions (for example, in the class action concerning the Black Friday Bushfires, 40 expert witnesses were utilised) it is undoubtable that this new legislation will have a significant impact on the use of expert witnesses in the Queensland court system. Experts who expect to be utilised in such proceedings should familiarise themselves with the court procedure rules which are specific to Queensland, in particular Part 5 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rule 1999 (QLD) which deals specifically with expert witnesses.
The new class action regime in Queensland opens the door for Queensland residents to commence class actions within their own state borders rather than relying on external jurisdictions to commence their claims. As discussed above, this is likely to have wide repercussions across the Queensland legal industry, including the increased use of expert witnesses. At ExpertsDirect, we pride ourselves on sourcing the most ideal expert witness for your dispute regardless of the jurisdiction.
 Queensland to allow class action law suits, 5 August 2016
 Class Action Regime Approved in Queensland, 11 November 2016
 Class Actions in Australia – 2014 in Review, January 2015,