Clinic offers legal services, assistance with filing claims in settlement distribution processes
The Class Action Clinic at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, established in October 2019, is celebrating two years of its efforts to fill a void in Canada’s legal landscape and to attain the access-to-justice potential of such proceedings.
According to Windsor Law’s news release, the legal clinic has, since its launch:
- Supported more than 150 individual clients from across the country;
- Helped 53 clients with their settlement claims applications, with 20 clients appealing claims administrators’ decisions;
- Offered independent legal advice to dozens of class members about their rights in connection with opting out or objecting to a proposed settlement;
- Represented objecting class members in two court hearings, one of which led to the judge not approving the settlement, as asked by the objectors;
- Published monthly blog posts and daily tweets on matters impacting class members, as part of its public education efforts on class actions;
- Made written and oral submissions to the Legislature and commented on law reform, as part of its public advocacy work;
- Won nearly $350,000 in cy près awards in two class action settlements.
The news release noted that, despite class actions being some of the most high-profile and far-reaching legal proceedings within the Canadian justice system, class members have at times lacked easy access to information regarding what role class members take in such proceedings and whom to approach for assistance. The legal clinic has been working to address this issue.
The legal clinic, which is the first of its kind in North America, offers various services, resources and assistance with filing claims in settlement distribution processes. To support class members across Canada, the clinic delivers services either online, via telephone, via video conference or in person for those in the Windsor–Essex community. It also seeks to promote awareness regarding class actions through its public education, outreach and research efforts.
The legal clinic has gotten positive feedback and recognition from lawyers, clients and journalists and has received financial support from the Law Foundation of Ontario and Windsor Law upon its launch.
Jasminka Kalajdzic, an associate professor who joined Windsor Law in 2009, serves as director of the Class Action Clinic, which also includes a staff lawyer and a team of law students. According to information from law school’s website, Kalajdzic has been associate dean at Windsor Law and co-principal researcher and co-author of the Law Commission of Ontario’s Class Action Report, released in 2019.
Kalajdzic has taught evidence, class actions and legal ethics at Windsor Law and has published two books and numerous articles about judicial approaches to settlement standards in class actions, about legal ethics, about class action praxis and about commercial litigation funding. Her research interests include access to justice, class actions and legal ethics.