We commonly hear about a class action lawsuit filed on the television or in the newspaper, but often, fail to understand the principle, mechanism and requirements that lay the foundations of a class action. A class action lawsuit is a type of procedure, whereby one or more individual(s) that represent a group of people file for an issue that possess similar facts or legal basis, in accordance set forth by Article 1 (a) Perma 1/2002. The individual(s) who represent the group are referred to as the ‘class representative(s),’ bringing the claim to the court on behalf of the group that are filing; these are the ‘class members’ or plaintiffs.
These lawsuits improve access to justice, as an equalizing mechanism for the ‘weaker parties,’ such as consumers or local communities litigating against entities with stronger economic or political positions. Class action cases mostly revolve around issues to protect public interests, some of which have included breaches against consumer protection and environmental contamination. Therefore, class action cases are commonly considered ‘high profile cases.’
What are the benefits of filing a class action lawsuit?
The Indonesian judicial system has adopted a form of civil procedure with a clear objective in mind: improving access to justice by making the judicial process more efficient. Under the class action mechanism, the Indonesian courts can consolidate the examination of cases, avoiding the duplicity of multiple proceedings for similar legal issues. As such, the mechanism for efficiency is aligned to the principles of the judicial system in Indonesia, which holds itself as proponents of a simple, low-costing and transparent procedure. Consequently, a case filed as a class action lawsuit finds itself mitigating against the contradictory judgements issued by different panels of judges, streamlining the judicial process for both the plaintiffs and defendant.
Although the verdict will always one favor one party over the other, both the plaintiffs and defendant can benefit from reduced legal costs and a consistent verdict.1 For example, the plaintiffs may otherwise receive nothing because they are not able to afford an attorney if they bring their claims individually. The flip side eases the defendant from the headache and the financial burden of continuously hiring a legal team to fight against multiple proceedings, since similar losses are treated consistently from one court decision to all cases under the lawsuit.
What happens after a class action lawsuit is filed?
When a class action lawsuit is filed, the court decides on the merits of the claims for the entire group, which holds a different implication for the defendant and the plaintiffs. If the verdict is in favor of the defendant, the class action lawsuit is dismissed and the individuals in the group are barred from filing new or individual claims related to the same issue against the defendant.
On the other hand, if the court favors the plaintiffs and finds the defendant liable for the plaintiffs’ losses2, the court judgement will detail the compensation payable by determining (i) the members of the group that are entitled to receive the compensation; and (ii) the mechanisms and the steps that will be taken by the class representative for the process of distribution. 3th
When does a class action lawsuit become available as a legal alternative? A class action is considered as a type of civil claim; therefore, initiating one must be based on tort or a breach of contract. Every group of individuals, consumers, and communities who have suffered losses, or believe that their rights have been violated can file a class action lawsuit to the relevant Indonesian court.
The jurisdiction of the relevant court for class action lawsuit is also established based on the Civil Procedure Law (“HIR/RBG”),4 which emphasizes on the domicile or residence of the defendant(s), established by the actor sequitur forum rei principle. 5
Set out by the guidelines of Perma 1/2002, a class action lawsuit must satisfy the requirements stipulated, or face dismissal by the judge in the preliminary examination.6 In summary, the following are the basic requirements for filing a class action lawsuit:7
- The claims must be of civil nature.
- The lawsuit must concern the interests of multiple plaintiffs.8There is no minimum limitation on the numbers of the plaintiffs. Therefore, the number of plaintiffs can range from dozens, hundreds, and even thousands depending on the extent to which the tort or breach of contract affected the community.
- The claims must possess similar legal basis – this includes resemblances in facts or events. 9
- There are overlaps in the demands commanded by the plaintiffs. Schinder Law Firm emphasizes that this is the similarity between the types of demands, and not the amount of demands between the class members and class representative(s).
- The class representative must act for and on behalf of the genuine interests of the class members.
How can you best handle a class action lawsuit? Class action consolidates claims of a large number of plaintiffs, which means that the claim amount may be astronomical. As class action lawsuits tend to attract the interests of the public eye, they warrant a strong legal team well-versed in the legal, commercial and public relations implications of the cases. Whether you are a member of the local community wronged by a corporation or a socially responsible company that is a victim of unfounded accusation, we welcome a consultation to discuss your unique needs. For further interpretation regarding the legality of class action lawsuits, you can check our official website at https://www.schinderlawfirm.com/
1Marianne Bonner, “What is a Class Action Lawsuit”,
2FindLaw’s team of attorney writers and editors, “Class Action Cases”, https://litigation.findlaw.com/legal-system/class-action-cases.html.
3Article 9 Perma 1/2002.
4Article 3 (1) Perma 1/2002.
5Article 118 HIR/142 RBG
6Article 5 (5) Perma 1/2002.
8Article 2 (a) Perma 1/2002.
9Article 2 letter (b) Perma 1/2002.
About the author:
Morales Sharoz Sundusing
Morales is a qualified Indonesian advocate. He specialises in litigation and other contentious matters. He has extensive experience in handling high profile corruption cases as well as general election disputes, i.e. 2014 Presidential Election, before the Indonesian Constitutional Court.