A class action, also known as a class proceeding, is a lawsuit in which one party, or a group of parties, may sue or be sued as representatives of a larger class.
Before a class action may proceed, the court must be satisfied that the case meets certain criteria. The court determines whether the case satisfies the criteria in a hearing called a motion for certification.
In Ontario, once an action is certified as a class proceeding, a notice is published, which informs members of the class about the class proceeding.
Everyone who fits the definition of a class member is automatically included in the class action, unless they choose to exclude themselves by “opting out.” After the action is certified, the class will be provided with a period of time to decide whether they wish to participate or opt out. Class members who do not opt out of the class, are deemed to be part of the class, and do not need to take any steps.