Can class members appeal class action settlements? A study from British Columbia

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It is widely recognized that the review of settlement agreements executed by the formal parties to class action litigation—the representative plaintiff and the defendant—represents the most important and challenging task that judges presiding over such litigation face. In order to facilitate this judicial task the views with respect to proposed class action settlements are sought from those persons who will be bound by such compromises despite having had no
involvement in the settlement negotiations and in the conduct of the litigation itself: the class members. If the trial court approves the settlement despite the filing of objections to the settlement (or aspects of the settlement) by one or more of the affected class members, can these dissatisfied class members or objectors seek the intervention of an appellate court? This general question has been considered by American appellate courts on numerous occasions.
But in Canada this question has been considered only in Quebec and in a somewhat indirect manner, given that it has been held in that province that settlement approval orders are not appealable regardless of whether the appeal is filed by the representative plaintiff or one of the class members. The aim of this article is to explore the major issues that will need to be grappled with when the intervention of Canadian appellate courts will be sought by dissatisfied
class members. This study will be undertaken with respect to British Columbia, which has Canada’s third longest-running class action regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-140
Number of pages19
JournalCommon Law World Review
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Class actions
  • settlements
  • appeals by class members
  • British Columbia
  • Ontario
  • United States

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