Strength in numbers: collective action
Georgina Hollis and Amar Chauhan consider how to find clients in group litigation
There is strength in numbers, and when it comes to bringing a legal case, this is especially true. People up and down the country are suffering from civil issues that could be solved more efficiently and cost-effectively by grouping together and taking collective action. Take the Postmasters’ scandal, the contaminated blood scandal, the fire safety crisis, vaginal mesh complications – the list goes on and on.
Every one of those individuals faced exceptionally high barriers to justice when acting alone, especially with the decimation of legal aid, but when they came together, they had power and options. Not least because the defendant is more likely to take their complaint seriously. Plus, lawyers are keen to represent groups, because collective cases are more commercially viable, and the media is more interested in covering their story.
People power works
Further, an increasing number of countries are moving in the right direction regarding collective actions, and the new EU directive permitting bloc-wide actions will soon remodel the entire litigation landscape in Europe. Not only are the legal mechanisms becoming more favourable, claimants are becoming more knowledgeable.
Everyone knows about the big cases like dieselgate – and it won’t be long until claimants are calling for more wrongs to be put right. Large organisations that freely break the law should be worried. David is coming for Goliath. This is why we created Find Others. It came out of our experience of a faulty car. It turned out we were not alone, but we were unable to find other owners easily. Getting a group together to take action was incredibly difficult, so we decided to make it easier. It has been normalised organisations can break the law and get away with it. Sometimes it’s because people do not band together. Other times it’s because the damage suffered individually does not make it worth taking action.
These problems can be addressed by grouping together. Funded by the SRA, Find Others is a unique platform that enables people who have suffered an injustice to find others affected by the same problem and build powerful groups to solve their issues collectively. They can do this through building awareness campaigns and group legal actions for free on the site.
So, what's the up side for solicitors?
Firstly, the platform increases the availability of collective redress options for claimants. This will result in a much higher number of viable group actions forming, and these groups will require the assistance of solicitors to pursue their cases through to resolution. To help this process, Find Others is building the most comprehensive directory of group action litigators worldwide, which claimants can use to find the right representation for them. Solicitors just need to register for a free account, and they’ll be included. Think of it as a marketplace for group actions.
Secondly, from speaking with a range of solicitors working on group actions, we have discovered many issues with the administration of these cases. From bookbuilding a critical mass of claimants and conducting administrative tasks to proving commercial viability with litigation funders, group actions require a very tailored approach. Very few, if any, current case management systems can cope with these demands. Hence, we have set on a path to building a true endto- end system, specifically for group actions. Version 1.0 of the platform already includes the claimant-facing campaign and legal case builder, and gives solicitors the ability to launch cases with custom intake forms in minutes, without the need for developers or lengthy setup periods. Early adopters are now sought to pilot these features for the benefit of claimants and firms alike.
Litigation funders also have a role to play in developing this marketplace. We believe funders will start to demand cases are run on platforms such as Find Others, to help manage the spiralling costs often associated with group actions. Funders can also use the platform to assess litigation trends – and be the first to spot potentially lucrative cases posted by claimants.
Georgina Hollis and Amar Chauhan are the founders of Find Others: findothers.com