Class actions: two model notices to better communicate with members

The very nature of class actions means that they have significant legal effects on the rights of a very large number of people, even though most of them are unaware of the existence of the legal process in which they are involved. Notice to class members therefore plays a crucial role in access to justice. They must reach as many people as possible, and enable each member of the class to obtain the information they need to fully exercise their rights. A significant improvement in the visibility and readability of these notices is needed to meet this challenge.

Indeed, an analysis of the notices to members, as they are currently published, reveals numerous and very serious shortcomings, both in terms of their graphic design and their drafting. These "traditional" notices do not adequately inform the public of the existence of a recourse; worse, they may even discourage potential members of a recourse from seeking further information.

In order to improve the visibility of notices to members and their perception by litigants, we have, with the help of two experts, studied their graphic and linguistic legibility, as well as their structure and content. This work enabled us to identify the main shortcomings of traditional notices and to develop two new notice models, a summary and a detailed one. We then consulted lawyers working in the field of class actions to obtain their views on our models. Finally, we submitted the old and new notice models to Canadian consumers in four focus groups.