Australia's landmark Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry that was conducted throughout 2018 and reported in early 2019 highlighted numerous examples of potential contraventions of the law.
The Royal Commission has triggered not just legislative reform and regulatory actions, but also a boom in class action proceedings seeking to recover compensation for bank customers and shareholders alike. As of 30 June 2020, 17 class actions, relying on a variety of causes of action, including shareholder claims of misleading or deceptive conduct, contravention of superannuation fund trustee obligations, unconscionable conduct and contravention of responsible lending obligations, have been commenced.
The Royal Commission and its aftermath serve as a clear illustration of how public inquiries and actions by regulators can act as a beacon to class action plaintiff lawyers and funders, shining a spotlight on particular industries, commercial practices and, on occasion, misconduct. As a result, corporations or individuals that that are the focus of public inquiries or regulatory action need to prepare for follow-on class actions in addition to, or concurrent with, the initial proceeding.
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