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Sirtex Class Action -- Proposed Settlement

Discussion in 'ASX Stock Chat' started by DB121, Jun 29, 2019.

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  1. DB121

    DB121

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    Discussion on Sirtex Class Action settlement announced 7 June 2019
     
  2. DB121

    DB121

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    Wed 26 June 2019, Justice Murphy made timetabling orders and approved a proposed settlement notice for the Sirtex class action:

    https://www.comcourts.gov.au/file/Federal/P/VID1375/2017/3809204/event/29905761/document/1418010

    As anticipated, the proposed Settlement Amount is $40,000,000.

    The applicant lawyers seek a hefty $10,000,000 chunk of this, with another $10,000,000 sought by the litigation funders.

    Further settlement admin and distribution costs can be expected, as well as potentially further legal costs.

    A costs referee is to be appointed, for a maximum fee of $25,000, although it's not known how spirited the referee will be interrogating the legal costs.

    The proposal is that the actual class action members will receive less than 50% of the $40,000,000 Settlement Amount.

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    I appeared at the Wed 26 June 2019 case management conference before Justice Murphy and sought leave to be an Amicus Curiae on the issue of the applicants’ legal costs.

    I previously circulated submissions for a "Kingsnake Approach" of innovations to enable market forces to have a real contest about the applicant legal costs. Without any further costs to class members. And the potential to distribute more of the headline Settlement Amount to those class members.

    See:
    https://issuu.com/home/published/submissions_2019_06_21_

    Justice Murphy said he was removing himself from the settlement approval process given that he was 8 days or so into hearing the trial before it was adjourned for the potential settlement approval. And in these circumstances, his Honour would not hear my Amicus Curiae application either.

    It was indicated that Justice Jonathan Beach had availability to take over presiding. In any event, whomever the judge will be, Justice Murphy said that it was open for me to renew the application with that judge.

    The Applicant lead class action lawyers (Maurice Blackburn) had filed an affidavit on 26 June 2019 (morning) which apparently detailed legal costs of more than $10 million, however the costs sought in the draft orders were for a round amount of $10 million "only".

    Perhaps this was a "Kingsnake effect" which I had flagged in my written submission:

    "It may just be that making these submissionswill focus the minds wonderfully of the applicants’ lawyers to be more conservativein the amounts they estimate for the Proposed Settlement Notice and ultimately pressfor in the Settlement Approval Hearing."

    Disappointingly, the timetabling of the orders were made in the usual way where class members would have a limited opportunity, if any, to review and test the legal costs prior to the settlement approval hearing.

    The relevant timeline is as follows:

    7 August 2019 any class member objections -- and file affidavits and submissions in support

    9 August 2019 Referee costs report to chambers

    16 August 2019 Applicant lawyers materials (including legal costs) in support of settlement application

    23 August 2019 settlement approval hearing

    So, yes, the current timetable requires class members to make any objections before the legal costs information is even required to be filed.

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    If there are any class members who are interested in me representing them for no cost in the objection process, then please contacted me.

    If instructed to do so, an application could be made for better access to the legal costs information.

    If a few hundred thousand have already been retained by class action members due to my "Kingsnake effect" -- perhaps even more could be retained if I am instructed to get under the hood and see why the applicants' lawyers say their large fees are so reasonable -- and make some submissions if I form the view that they may not be so reasonable after all.

    There just must be limits to lawyer fees for there to be justice.

    I have said elsewhere: "And we say Fair Pay for your Fair Work and having a go. That's all."

    David Barrow | Lawyer | AAV Legal
     
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