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Ernest Hemingway once quipped that change often comes gradually before arriving suddenly. The pace of change in certain sectors of civil litigation in 2022 gives credence to these words. Here, we look at some of the more notable changes introduced this year and the effect they are likely to have on dispute resolution for the future.

Chief amongst these is the approval by the Irish Government of draft legislation to transpose a recent EU Directive which will, for the first time, permit class action lawsuits in Ireland. Until now, no formal mechanism existed for a group of litigants to consolidate their claims against an alleged wrongdoer. Many have argued that this provides a barrier for injured parties to collectively seek justice, as well as being an unnecessary burden on hard pressed court resources. We examine the scope of the proposed legislation, how it will take effect and what its likely impact on collective redress actions will be in the future.

Closely linked to the issue of class action is that of third-party litigation funding. The Law Society of Ireland has indicated that changes are expected both at a national and EU level. These changes would allow third parties to fund litigation, often in the form of class actions, on behalf of plaintiffs who cannot afford to take legal proceedings and are therefore denied access to justice. This would allow authorised, regulated litigation funders to invest in litigation in the same way they could invest in a company, offering capital at the outset in exchange for a share of the award at the end. We review the proposed changes and what regulation may be required if and when implemented.

Defamation law in Ireland has long been viewed as outdated and unsuitable for the modern digital age. Advances in technology mean that potentially defamatory material can be instantly distributed to millions of people via the internet, posing questions as to who is liable for any harm caused. Now, in the first significant update since 2009, the Department of Justice has made a number of recommendations to defamation law in Ireland. These are expected to be soon collated into a Bill for consideration by the legislature. We consider the Department’s recommendations and what impact they are likely to have on defamation suits in this jurisdiction.

Funding for the Party

Ask the loser (or even the winner) of High Court litigation and they will tell you it can be a costly experience. So much so, that injured parties are often unable to litigate a dispute, even if they have a strong and legitimate case. Third party litigation funders may soon be stepping in to assist these parties. Although not exactly benevolent white knights, nobly battling for justice on behalf of the needy - these funders take a share of any court-awarded damages - they present a viable solution for certain litigants and are long established in other jurisdictions. We consider the benefits of third party funding and also, the necessary regulation required to make it work.

Read the full article: Third Party Litigation Funding in Ireland - Finally Change?

New to the Class – Collective Litigation Actions

What do Big Tobacco, Volkswagen and Enron have in common? Each was ordered by US courts to pay out billions of dollars to aggrieved customers who had suffered harm as a result of the company’s actions. Given the common cause of action, it seems logical that the plaintiffs in these cases were joined together and effectively had their claim heard as a single case in court. Such a mechanism, known as a “class action”, is not currently possible in Ireland.

This is now going to change next year as the Irish government will implement an EU Directive allowing class actions to take place. We look at how these plaintiffs will be represented and the various ways in which they will be able to seek justice.

Read the full article: Class Actions in Ireland?

Reputational Damage(s)

Oscar Wilde said that no man is rich enough to buy back his past, but surely some value can be placed on a good name in the present?

Defamation law has long been due an update due to the myriad means by which defamatory information can be spread, some of which could not even have been imagined in 2009 when the most recent legislation was enacted. The internet has forever changed the spread of information and defamation law is racing to keep up. We examine the proposed updates and ask ourselves, can the value of a good reputation be quantified?

Read the full article: The Value of a Good Name

Contact us

Our team has unrivalled experience in acting for clients in all types of high value and complex commercial disputes. For more information on how we can assist your organisation in managing and successfully resolving disputes in 2023, contact Maurice Phelan or another member of our Dispute Resolution team.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

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