Appeal lodged for leadership of BHP class action

1 February 2019
Australia’s leading class action law firm, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, has today filed an appeal that will see it seek to gain carriage of the important shareholder class action against BHP Billiton Ltd in respect of the Fundão Dam collapse.

The appeal seeks to overturn a recent decision awarding carriage of the matter to a less-experienced plaintiff law firm.

Andrew Watson, National Head of Class Actions at Maurice Blackburn, said that after serious consideration, there were strong grounds to appeal the decision in the interests of group members that had selected Maurice Blackburn to run the matter.

“The Court accepted that Maurice Blackburn’s funding arrangements would likely result in a higher percentage return to group members but chose to award carriage of the claim to a more expensive and less experienced alternative – we can’t see how that is in the interests of class members,” Mr Watson said.

“Maurice Blackburn is Australia’s leading class actions practice and we have an unparalleled track record of running the nation's largest and most complex class actions and securing the biggest recoveries in Australian class actions for our clients.”

The Maurice Blackburn appeal raises a number of issues concerning the Court’s findings, including:

  • failing to properly consider Maurice Blackburn’s proposed Litigation Services Fee despite the fact that it would provide better returns to group members;
  • not preferring Maurice Blackburn’s secondary option of a no-win no-fee arrangement, despite the Court accepting that the no-win no-fee arrangement would likely result in a higher percentage of any settlement or judgment sum being available for distribution to group members.

“In all class action carriage contests the interests of the class members should be paramount – we think this judgment failed to get that right,” Mr Watson said.