• SKU: CCAR140104
Filed Under: Journals

Class Actions in England, North America, and Australia


“Class actions have their forebears in equity. Representative proceedings first emerged in medieval England in about the year 1200,1 and involved pre-existing groups suing for a declaration of rights: for example, villagers suing for a declaration against the manorial lord that they had a right to graze common land. Representative actions reached their ascendancy in England in the seventeenth century, and since that time, as Stephen Yeazell has written, they have been put to three chronologically separate and distinct uses.2 In the first phase, such proceedings were used to modernize and adjust the customary law governing manorial (landlord– tenant) and parochial (priest–parishioner) relationships on the eve of the agricultural revolution. In the second phase, in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the proceedings were instead used in disputes between new sets of groups, such as business persons and trade unions. For Yeazell, the third phase involves the emergence of the modern class action in the United States. The first two phases will be examined below, while the third phase will be reviewed later in this chapter.”


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