Environmental class actions a tough sell: report

Jennifer Fairfax

Feb 5, 2015

David Dias

Canadian Lawyer Magazine

(Recap)

If anything is likely to prompt a class action, it’s an environmental disaster impacting an entire community — or, at least, that was the thinking a decade ago.

Osler’s Jennifer Fairfax suggests class actions may not be the preferable mechanism for dealing with environmental claims.

But the promise of the environmental class action (or threat, depending on which side you happen to be on) may never come to fruition in Canada, according to a presentation yesterday by an environmental lawyer at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

At the Ontario Bar Association’s Institute 2015 conference — now in full swing, with 1,700 participants converging in downtown Toronto — Osler’s Jennifer Fairfax delivered a paper that describes a litany of failed attempts to certify an environmental class, and ultimately suggests class actions may not be the preferable mechanism for dealing with environmental claims.

Despite the intuition that environmental harm may strike a common class, Fairfax goes on to explain how, in practice, environmental classes can be fiendishly difficult to certify.

To read the full article, click here.