What are class action suits?


The families of 71 people who were killed after Cyclone Tauktae destroyed ONGC’s barge vessels off Bombay High have received compensation. However, India’s laws for negligence and liability are weak and the affected families can do little in terms of filing personal injury suits or class action suits.

What are class action suits?
    • A class-action suit is a legal action or claim that allows one or many plaintiffs to file and appear for a group of people with similar interests. Such a group forms a “class”.
    • A class-action suit derives from representative litigation to ensure justice to the ordinary individual against a powerful adversary.
Can Class Action Suits be compared to Public Interest Litigation(PIL)?
    • A crucial difference is that, unlike a class action suit, a PIL cannot be filed against a private party.
What has deterred the development of class action suits in India?

There are several hurdles namely:

    • Underdeveloped system of torts: A tort occurs when someone commits a wrong against another person. Tort law allows individuals who have had a wrong committed against them to claim damages against the person who has committed the wrong.
    • Lack of contingency fees: The rules of the Bar Council of India do not allow lawyers to charge contingency fees, i.e., a percentage of the damages claimants receive if they win a case. This disincentivizes lawyers from appearing in time-consuming cases that class action suits inevitably are.
    • Third-party financing mechanisms for litigants: Since litigation costs are high, class action suits can be made easier by allowing external parties to fund or sponsor the cost of litigation.

Source: Indian Express


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