Supreme Court

Civil Procedure

Collective action permitted where representative does not have direct cause of action against each defendant


Consumers seeking repayment of conversion charges imposed by several credit card issuers (banks) on credit card purchases made in foreign currencies commenced class action claiming that conversion charges violated Consumer Protection Act (Que.). Banks defended, claiming that representative plaintiffs did not have standing to sue all banks since they did not have direct cause of action against each of them. Superior Court refused to dismiss class action on basis that plaintiffs did not have standing. Court of Appeal upheld conclusion that representative plaintiffs had sufficient interest against all banks to permit class action to proceed. Further appeal to Supreme Court of Canada by banks dismissed. Code of Civil Procedure (Que.), requires plaintiffs to have “sufficient interest” and “common interest” in action. When interpreted in context of collective and representative nature of class action, law permits collective action where representative does not have direct cause of action against, or legal relationship with, each defendant. Judge may authorize class action where representative plaintiff is adequate representative of class and actions against each defendant involve identical, similar or related questions of law or fact. Standing must be analyzed through lens of criteria for authorization of class actions and understood from perspective of common interest of proposed class, not solely from perspective of representative plaintiff. Conclusion consistent with most other Canadian jurisdictions, ensures economy of judicial resources, increases access to justice and averts possibility of conflicting judgments.

Marcotte c. Banque de Montreal

(Sep. 19, 2014, S.C.C., McLachlin C.J.C., LeBel J., Abella J., Rothstein J., Cromwell J., Moldaver J., and Wagner J., File No. 35009) Decision at 223 A.C.W.S. (3d) 925 was reversed in part.  244 A.C.W.S. (3d) 74.

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