The National Class Action Database is a pilot project initiated by the Civil Litigation Section of the Canadian Bar Association, following a recommendation by a Uniform Law Conference of Canada’s Working Group on Multi-jurisdictional Class Actions.

The Database seeks to address some of the challenges for the administration of justice and effective management of judicial resources that arise from multi-jurisdictional class actions. These include uncertainty for members of the public who may be presumptively included in more than one class action and subject to conflicting court judgments, uncertainty for counsel as to the size and composition of class membership in any particular class action, and uncertainty for the judiciary as to the class members that are bound by their decisions.

The Database will be a repository for information about the existence and status of class actions across Canada so that the public, counsel, and courts need only look to one source for this information, and without cost to them.

The following explains the content of the database, how it functions and its limitation.

Contents of the Database

The database will list all class actions filed in Canada after January 1, 2007 that are sent to the CBA. Once posted, a class action proceeding will remain on the database unless and until it is dismissed as a class action by the court. Counsel can request that proceedings filed prior to January 1, 2007 be posted on the CBA website. These “archived” class actions will be posted as soon as time permits.

Counsel who wish to have proceedings posted on the database must complete the Database Registration Form and send it along with the original pleadings and certification motion (in PDF or Word) to the CBA at classaction@cba.org. The CBA strives to post the information provided within five working days from receipt of the documents and fully-completed registration form.

Counsel who submit the registration form are asked to verify the accuracy of the information when posted on the web and inform the CBA if and when the information needs to be modified.

Functioning of the Database

Once posted, users of the Database will be able to browse class action proceedings, obtain useful information and download relevant documents. All class actions will be listed annually in chronological order beginning with the most recent. The jurisdiction where each proceeding is filed will be indicated on the list.

The Database includes brief descriptors of the class action proceedings, namely, the filing date, style of cause, description of the class, subject-matter of the action, and status of the case.

A search engine is located on the webpage to allow users to identify quickly the existence of class action proceedings with overlapping class members or subject matter.

Limitations of the Database

While there are a number of jurisdictions that have issued or are contemplating practice directions requiring counsel to complete the Database Registration Form and provide relevant documents to the CBA, providing this information remains primarily a voluntary commitment on the part of class action counsel. Therefore, the CBA cannot guarantee the exhaustiveness of the class actions listed, or the accuracy of the information posted.

While the search capacity of the Database is relatively basic at present, the CBA hopes to enhance these search capabilities in the future, as more class actions are added.