Ireland has nominal provision for multi-party litigation. Order 15, rule 9 of the Rules of the Superior Courts states:
9. Where there are numerous persons having the same interest in one cause or matter, one or more of such persons may sue or be sued, or may be authorised by the Court to defend, in such cause or matter, on behalf, or for the benefit, of all persons so interested.
This has been interpreted restrictively and is little used.
Generally, as an alternative, “test cases” are pursued, one case being chosen to determine the issue of liability and thereafter cases are fought on the issue of quantum of compensation.
There is, in Ireland, a notion that it is the function of the Courts to avoid a âbreach of the floodgatesâ?, an idea at considerable odds with the doctrine of the separation of powers.
Nevertheless, the Irish Law Reform Commission published, in 2005, a report on the subject recommending the introduction of Rules permitting the commencement of class actions and regulating their conduct.
There can be problems with class actions but in a small jurisdiction like Ireland these could be minimised.