Public vs private enforcement of securities laws: An Australian empirical study

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Class actions on behalf of aggrieved shareholders and other investors have become the most common form of group litigation filed in the Federal Court of Australia. This increasing importance of investor class actions has raised a number of important practical and conceptual issues. One such issue is how this private enforcement of the laws that are intended to protect investors interacts with the operation of the public enforcement model and their respective abilities to deter illegal conduct and secure compensation for the losses suffered by investors. The aim of this article is to explore this issue by comparing and contrasting the enforcement actions that have been undertaken by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the public regulator, with the federal class actions that have been filed on behalf of investors with respect to the same conduct or legal disputes over a 17 year period. This empirical study focuses on the nature of the relief that was sought, the persons and entities against whom this relief was sought and/or secured, the outcomes of these actions and the problems that may be encountered when the same conduct prompts public and private enforcement activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-78
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Corporate Law Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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