Class actions set for federal court move

The US Senate Judicial Committee is considering proposals that would see the bulk of class actions being fought in federal rather than state courts.
Critics argue that the move threatens to favour corporate defendants because federal courts are perceived to be less supportive of securities and antitrust class actions.
“The proposal protects corporate wrongdoing,” said Carlton Carl, a spokesman for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). Carl argues that the proposal is a mechanism for scuppering class actions. He said it enables a defendant, if it is based in a separate state to the claimant, to have cases worth more than $5m (£3.1m) heard in a federal court, even when a state court is the appropriate jurisdiction.
The proposals appear in the context of major changes to the class law environment over an extended period. The central thrust of the changes is to restrict lawyers’ ability to sign up large numbers of clients in class actions, and restrictions on lawyers filing similar claims but under different legislation in both federal and state courts.