Class Action Settlements: Issues and the Importance of Judicial Oversight
Authors Estelle Hurter
Affiliations: Professor of Law, Department of Criminal and Procedural Law, University of South Africa
Source: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, The, Volume 51 Issue 1, p. 97 – 115
Like ordinary civil matters, most class actions settle before trial. However, unlike ordinary civil matters, the representative nature of the class action and the consequential risk of collusive practices to the detriment of the absent group members, have led the leading class action jurisdictions to require court approval of all settlements. Various criteria have been developed (mainly by courts) in order to assess whether a proposed settlement meets the required fairness standard. This article briefly examines the concerns regarding collective settlements; the various sets of criteria used by leading class action jurisdictions; and presents a set of criteria for possible consideration and adoption by South African courts when in future confronted by the need to develop local assessment criteria.