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All Together Now…!

Collectively, lawyers are, sometimes, fantasists. We know this from the postulation of “the man on the Clapham omnibus” or the proposition “…something snapped in my brain…”.

These fantasies are overt. We live with others that are covert. I have in mind the continued refusal of the Irish courts to make provision for class actions.

Currently, the courts will only admit of claims from single persons or, exceptionally, groups who have suffered the same damage in the same circumstances. These groups are, in effect, individual litigants who have made their claim in the same proceedings. They will know each other or their lawyer will know each of them in detail.

In effect, the Irish courts are imposing a narrow political and social vision of society on the Irish people. That vision admits as legitimate only the claims of the individual (usually a man). In fact we know very well that society functions through group action and that the groups are often very large.

This attitude by the Irish courts is not exceptional. The EU is toying, again, with the idea of permitting limited class actions in member states. See an earlier post on this HERE.

In the meantime, UK courts have, without significant difficulty, made provision for the bringing of class actions, We see the result of that in the capitulation by Royal Dutch Shell in a class action brought by Leigh Day (solicitors) on behalf of the population of Bodo, a town in Nigeria.

Will Ireland suffer the humiliation of Irish citizens bringing a class action in London for events which happened in Ireland?