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Group Litigation Orders

diesel car exhaust emitting fumes

A Group Litigation Order (GLO) is more commonly understood by many as the UK Equivalent of a Class Action Lawsuit, but the term Class Action Lawsuit is in fact an American term. In truth, a Group Litigation Order and a Class Action Lawsuit are not quite the same, but it is the simplest explanation.

A Group Litigation Order is where a number of people making a claim are grouped together and dealt with as a single case usually by taking one or more of the individual cases through the process as a representation of all the cases and the result of that case then applying to all the cases in the group.

Why do we have group litigation orders?

Imagine 10,000 consumers all trying to sue the same company for the same thing, such as Mercedes Benz for their diesel emission claims. This brings about several potential problems:

  • The courts would be tied up with 10,000 individual cases.
  • With so many cases, undoubtedly spread across many courts, it's likely that inconsistent results will occur i.e. some claimants will win and some will lose based on exactly the same evidence.
  • Some claims may be very quick and brief, others may drag on for much longer.
  • The costs of each claim could vary considerably due to the differing lengths of time each claim spends in court and the varying costs of the legal teams on both sides.

The legal profession as a whole recognises the logical use of group actions when a group of claimants share the same related issues of fact or law.

Can any claim be a GLO

No. Some claims, like the recent PPI scandal, would not suit a GLO because there were too many factors between claimants that differed. It's not enough that they were all mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance, the nature of the claims and the facts of law that apply to each needs to the same.

a diesel car executive looking shocked at being found out

Do I need to be in a GLO?

Although you don't have to join a Group Litigation Order, it would probably be wiser to do so. Attempting to bring your own case to court is likely a high risk option compared to a case bought by a firm(s) on behalf of many people which will undoubtedly attribute great expense in an attempt to garner a successful result. Just because the GLO wins its case does not mean you can simply take your own case to court and point to the success of the GLO. You will have to make your own case with your own evidence.

It is worth bear in mind, if you try to pursue your claim outside of a GLO for no good reason then the courts may not allow you to do so.

The whole idea of the Group Action is to make sure claims are being pursued efficiently, so avoiding this without any good reason may be seen as inefficient and you could be penalised in some way for doing so.

Remember, when you join a group action like a Group Litigation Order, the knowledge and evidence of the group claim is collected from each claimant and used for the overall benefit of each member of the group.

It is usually standard procedure in a group litigation that the strongest individual cases within the group are presented to the judge, whereupon the outcome is then applicable to every claimant within the group.

This means that joining a group claim secures the best possible outcome for your individual claim.

How does a GLO start?

A Group Litigation Order can be requested by the claimant or the defendant. Think about it, when a company like Mercedes Benz faces the possibility of tens of thousands of claims against them for diesel emissions it would logically prefer to focus on one case rather than thousands of individual cases.

That said, what usually happens is solicitors smell 'blood in the water' for a particular case, gather up a number of claimants and then compete at court to run the Group Claim. It is perhaps more common that Group Litigation Orders are usually therefore the chosen path of the claimants via their solicitors rather than a reaction of the defendant.

Although you don't have to join a Group Litigation Order, it would probably be wiser to do so.

a sales chart depicting how diesel car companies profited from the emissions cheating

How does a GLO work?

Common scenarios where a GLO may be used include claims against pharmaceutical companies (when hundreds of people have been affected by the use of the same drug) or where there are multiple victims of the same accident or event, such as the families of the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy. In these cases, the matter of liability is usually established by testing one victim's case, without the facts of each case needing to be tried separately.