Royal Commission

The news, analysis and insights into the fifth round of public hearings covering superannuation

More class actions against retail funds ‘within weeks’

Law firm Slater & Gordon plans to lodge class actions against major retail superannuation funds in Federal Court within weeks, the litigator has confirmed.

“We estimate a third of adult Australians could be eligible to join these actions,” the group’s spokesperson said in a statement following a press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The law firm singled out Commonwealth Bank-owned superannuation fund Colonial First State and AMP Super as probable first targets in what it described as a series of legal actions it had planned.

The announcement of Slater & Gordon’s intent to lodge a class action follows the scathing fifth round of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, in which retail funds bore the brunt of the investigation.

The law firm’s latest planned move would be added to several existing class actions against wealth management giant AMP.

Slater & Gordon already has a class action against AMP on behalf of shareholders in relation to allegations that continuous disclosure laws were contravened, the Melbourne-based law firm confirmed.

At its annual general meeting in May, AMP confirmed it had been served with two class-action proceedings in addition to those outline above: a claim filed in the Supreme Court of New South Wales by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; and a claim filed in the Federal Court of Australia (Victorian Registry) by Phi Finney McDonald.

All of the class actions listed above were on behalf of shareholders who were affected by a drop in the company’s share price following fee-for-no-service revelations in April during Hayne royal commission hearings.

In the four months between mid-April and the start of August, when the two class actions were announced – bookended by the resignation of AMP’s then-chairman Catherine Brenner and an announcement of a $290 million-plus contingency plan to cover reparations of bad advice – AMP’s share price plummeted close to 31.3 per cent, from $4.80 to $3.30. AMP shares were trading at $3.28 at the close of trading on Tuesday.

In addition to these three class actions, law firms Shine Lawyers and Maurice Blackburn also have filed outstanding class actions against AMP – bringing the total to five.

“While we have not been served with any proceedings at this stage, we understand the proposed Slater & Gordon class action may be related to issues in our superannuation business that we previously identified and reported to the regulator,” an AMP spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday. “As we set out in our submissions to the Royal Commission, we are already fixing these issues and remediating customers.

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ABOUT

Royal Commission

into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was established on 14 December 2017 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

The Governor-General issued Letters Patent which formally appoint the Royal Commissioner and outline the Terms of Reference for this inquiry.

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