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in 1913 and consisting of a single sentence of thirty words,9 remained
unchanged and relatively unused for several decades following its intro-
duction. As a simple rule that was drafted in simple terms, there was
originally no manifest expression of the specific benefits expected to be
realized by Rule 75. It was not until the Ontario Law Reform Commission
took a close and insightful look at class actions in the early 1980s that
it became part of the conventional wisdom that class proceedings are
beneficial specifically because they can promote (1) judicial economy, (2)
access to justice (that is, compensation), and (3) behaviour modification
(that is, deterrence).10
Following the lead of the United States’ amendment of Rule 23 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1966,11 a move which had dra-
matically expanded the reach of class proceedings south of the border,
the early equitable rules allowing representative proceedings have now
yielded to detailed legislation in several Canadian provinces. Quebec
acted first in 1978,12 followed by Ontario in 1992 with the passage of the
CPA, and by British Columbia in 1995 with legislation of the same name
(and much the same content).13 Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and
Newfoundland and Labrador have now also enacted similar legislation
enabling class actions.14
Ontario’s CPA essentially adopted the draft legislation recommended
in the 1990 Report of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Class
9 Rule 75 read: “Where there are numerous persons having the same interest,
one or more may sue or be sued or may be authorized by the court to defend
on behalf of, or for the benefit of, all.” See Naken, ibid.
10 These three ends were identified and described at length in the report of the
Ontario Law Reform Commission (OLRC) on class actions: Ontario Law
Reform Commission, Report on Class Actions (Toronto: Ministry of the Attorney
General, 1982). These ends were approved by the Supreme Court of Canada in
be questioned whether class actions are truly consistent with a limited notion
of judicial economy to the extent that class proceedings also promote access
to justice, since while non-viable claims may be made viable and therefore be
brought as class proceedings, they also constitute an additional demand on
scarce judicial resources that would not be made if class proceedings were not
11 See Kenneth W. Dam, “Class Actions: Efficiency, Compensation, Deterrence,
and Conflict of Interest” (1975) J. Legal Stud. 47 at 47.
12 An Act Respecting the Class Action, R.S.Q. c. R-2.1.
Act, C.C.S.M. c. C130; Newfoundland and Labrador, Class Actions Act, S.N.L.
2001, c. C-18.1; and Saskatchewan, Class Actions Act, S.S. 2001, c. C-12.01.