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Getting Started: Class Actions

Overview

Ontario's Class Proceedings Act, 1992, S.O. 1992, c. 6 was proclaimed in force on January 1, 1993. Usually described as procedural in nature, the legislation is intended to provide an efficient and streamlined method for the courts to deal with complex litigation and to improve access to justice by allowing one or more persons to bring an action on behalf of a group of similarly situated persons.

The social and political influences which informed the development of such a major innovation in civil procedure is explored in Suzanne Chiodo’s work, The Class Actions Controversy: The Origins and Development of the Ontario Class Proceedings Act. In it, Chiodo analyzes the history of the Ontario Class Proceedings Act by exploring the origins of representative proceedings, the rise of class actions globally and the passing of the Ontario legislation. Detailing the works of the Advisory Committee which produced the report responsible for introducing class proceedings to Ontario, this book offers an important insight into the gensis of class actions in Ontario.

Legislative History
On June 29, 1989, the then Attorney General announced in the legislature that the government intended to introduce class action legislation. Bill 213, An Act Respecting Class Proceedings received first reading on June 12, 1990 (2nd sess., 34th Parl.). This bill did not pass due to the election and change in government.

Class proceedings legislation was again introduced, this time as Bill 28, An Act Respecting Class Proceedings at the next session (1st Sess., 35th Parl.) and received first reading on December 17, 1990. Bill 28 received second reading on November 18, 1991 (1st sess., 35th Parl.) and was referred to the Standing Committee on the Administration of Justice. The bill was ordered to be continued as a bill of the next session (2nd sess., 35th Parl.) and received third reading on May 4, 1992 and Royal Assent on June 25, 1992. The legislation was proclaimed in force on January 1, 1993.

Two important background reports to the legislation are:

The Debates (Hansard) of the Legislative Assembly on the Bill are available in the library stacks and online on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website. Library staff will be happy to provide assistance on their use for searching legislative intent.