An empirical analysis of class actions in South Africa
As far as the author is aware, there has not been an empirical analysis of class actions in South Africa since the introduction of the mechanism by the interim Constitution of 1993 more than 25 years ago. There is no publicly available data which provides meaningful empirical insight into the operation of the South African class action. There is consequently much that we do not know about it. This article attempts to examine class actions over a period spanning more than 19 years. The purpose of the article will be to provide, through an analysis of case law, an empirical exposition of class actions instituted in South Africa using the criteria and methodology mentioned below. The study demonstrates that, although there have been only a limited number of certification judgments delivered to date, there has been rapid growth in the number of certification judgments delivered in the past five years. Most of these judgments are aimed at providing access to justice for poor and marginalised individuals. The data presented herein could place South Africa in the fortuitous position of being able to build a comprehensive data archive in which the class action is statistically dissected. Without comprehensive data concerning the operation of the class action, the available information will be insufficient from the perspective of providing adequate insight to enable its optimal development going forward.