Trends in Canadian Securities Class Actions: 2017 Update

Tue Feb 20 00:00:00 EST 2018
By Bradley A. Heys and Robert Patton

In the latest edition of NERA’s annual report, “Trends in Canadian Securities Class Actions,” Director Bradley A. Heys and Associate Director Robert Patton examine trends in securities class action filings and resolutions in the 2017 calendar year.

In 2017, only a handful of Canadian securities class actions were filed, and an equal number of cases were resolved so that the total number of pending cases remained unchanged from the end of 2016. This development provides additional evidence that a slower rate of filings can be considered the new norm. This is in contrast with the experience in the US, where the pace of securities class actions has increased substantially, even focusing only on claims comparable to those typically filed in Canada.

Highlights of the 2017 report include:

  • Six new Canadian securities class actions were filed during 2017—two-thirds the number filed during 2016, and two more than the four cases filed during 2015.
  • Four Canadian securities class actions were settled (or tentatively settled, pending court approval) during 2017. This is double the number of settlements in 2016, but fewer than in 2013, 2014, or 2015.
  • The average settlement for cases from 1997 through 2017 is C$79 million—a figure skewed by two large settlements. The median settlement value over the same time period is C$13.0 million.
  • At the end of 2017, 51 Canadian securities class actions remained unresolved—the same number as at the end of 20h16, and well below the annual peak of 60 cases at the end of 2014.
  • Four of the six new cases filed in 2017 are class actions brought on behalf of a class of shareholders of a company whose shares are listed on a public stock exchange. One new case is a class action brought on behalf of a class of purchasers of debentures issued by a non-public company.
  • Four of the six new cases filed in 2017 were Statutory Secondary Market cases, bringing the total number of such cases filed to 81, as of the end of 2017.