Laboratoire sur les actions collectives
At Université de Montreal
- Catherine Piché - Directrice
At Université de Montreal
A new Class Actions Lab, founded and led by Professor Catherine Piché, was recently launched in the Faculty. The Laboratory hired two students over the summer of 2015: Charles-Antoine Péladeau, a Master’s student and third-year student Hugo Vaillancourt.
Why a Laboratory?
Thirty years ago, Quebec became the first Canadian province to adopt legislation governing and guiding collective legal recourse. Over the years, class action suits (“les recours collectifs”) have become a powerful instrument for defending the rights of consumers, for enabling access to justice and in the pursuit of democracy. In the New Code of Civil Procedure that will come into effect in Quebec in 2016, the terminology “l’action collective” (“class action”) is employed. It has also become the ultimate procedural tool, allowing both for substantial savings from a procedural and judicial perspective and serving as a deterrent to those who engage in abusive, illegal and anti-competitive commercial practices. Each year, class action settlements provide compensation to hundreds, thousands, even millions of plaintiffs. It is a promising sector within the national and international scope; the class action rights are both exciting and fascinating in terms of theory and practice.
Professor Catherine Piché accordingly sought to create a research laboratory with the objective of exploring in depth questions such as these to the benefit of Quebec society and its citizens.
Discussion and debate
The primary objective of the Laboratory is to allow for discussion and debate among practitioners, thinkers, researchers and judges interested in law and the practice of class actions in Quebec, Canada and beyond. In this regard, the Class Actions Lab will act as a platform for communication, for the exchange of information and as a meeting place. It will serve as a think tank for the reform of laws governing class actions both here and around the world. The Laboratory's activities will include the creation of a database indexing all pertinent Canadian judgments, the publication of scholarly articles, the launch of a blog to facilitate the exchange of information and communications between specialists worldwide, and the organization of meetings for discussion and debate.
Data, statistics and documentation
The Class Actions Lab will also facilitate the collection of court data and statistics as well as documentation on collective actions rights and practice, and the dissemination of information relating to class actions’ theoretical and empirical dimensions. The Laboratory will thus conduct empirical research on class action practices, creating pilot projects around such practices in the process.
Training and research
In addition, the Class Actions Lab will encourage teaching on class actions law in Quebec and elsewhere at both the undergraduate and graduate level. This implies the hiring of teaching and research assistants and the development of programs, certificates or specializations in the field. It will also lead to the organization of conferences and colloquia, as well as the funding of fellowships at UdeM for visiting professors and specialists from abroad. Moreover, there may be funding for specialized studies in the field of class actions law, in addition to scholarships for undergraduates and graduates in the form of competitions rewarding excellence.
Legal aid clinic
Finally, the Class Actions Lab envisages the establishment and implementation of a legal aid clinic-type program where students would be involved in real class-action cases. This type of clinic would both contribute to the development of legal expertise in the field and to Faculty programs for the provision of pro bono legal services.
While the Laboratory currently receives funding in the amount of $82,000 over three years, it is actively seeking long-term financing. Several funding agencies have guaranteed grants to Professor Piché: the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) (Student- Researchers program), the Claude Masse Foundation as well as Les Fonds Pineau, Éditions Themis and Georg Stellari of the Université de Montréal. These research funds are intended for a class action project that will conduct empirical research work in Quebec and Ontario.
To learn more
For more information on the work of the Laboratory, we invite you to familiarize yourself with the activities of the Class Actions Lab.