Towards a trauma-informed approach: adapting class action procedure for survivors of sexual abuse

AuthorSydney McIvor and Brittany Town
PositionA 2021 graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, Sydney McIvor is currently completing her articles as a Judicial Law Clerk at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice/First-year associate in the litigation group at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Towards a Trauma-Informed Approach: Adapting
Class Action Procedure for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Sydney McIvor and Brittany Town
: Civil procedure for survivors of sexual abuse seeking damages
is frequently criticized for its insensitivity to the needs of survivors. Class
actions are often pointed to as a less harmful alternative. A review of the
jurisprudence of sexual abuse class actions demonstrates how courts’
thinking on the issue has evolved over the past two decades and gives
clues as to where these actions are headed. This paper explores the experi-
ence of class action procedure from the perspectives of both representa-
tive plaintif‌fs and general class members. The needs of these two groups
can at times conf‌lict and lead to problems. There are also inherent issues
that arise from the individual experience of trauma being litigated on
aggregate. Based on the review of these experiences, this paper makes f‌ive
key recommendations on ways class action procedure can be amended in
the context of sexual abuse actions to accommodate the needs of surviv-
ors and otherwise be more trauma informed.

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