Justice Winkler, Ontario's recently retired Chief Justice, "has written many of the pioneering decisions on class proceedings", (22) including those on honorarium payments.
(25) The great influence these views have had in this area is apparent from the following comments made in December 2013 by Conway J of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice: "Honorarium payments are infrequently made.
(46) A striking example of the disparity that can exist between the level of effort that is required of representative plaintiffs and the quantum of their individual claims is found in Garland v Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc (Garland), where the court authorized honorarium payments to the representative plaintiff.
This was recognised by Tysoe J of the Supreme Court of British Columbia (as he then was) in 2004 in the first published judgment in British Columbia on honorarium awards when he wrote: "I do not believe that the payment of nominal compensation of $5,000 creates a conflict of interest which is worthy of any concern on the court's behalf." (56) However, in this context, what is more important is the "relative" quantum of the requested honorarium payment.
(67) An accurate understanding of the interaction between granting honorarium applications and adequate representation by the representative plaintiff requires an appreciation of the importance of this certification requirement and the practical dynamics of class action litigation.
(74) Justice Rady observed that "a modest honorarium is entirely appropriate if for no other reason but to encourage plaintiffs to be involved in the litigation in a meaningful rather than notional way".
Justice Perell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently wrote that "[t]he honorarium is ...
To better understand the use of honorarium payments in Ontario, a comparative study between Ontario and other jurisdictions is in order.
This research led to the identification of 126 applications for honorarium awards filed by representative plaintiffs in 64 Ontario class actions between January 1996 and December 2013.
Given the less restrictive judicial approach implemented in British Columbia, the higher frequency of honorarium applications is not surprising, although greater disparity in these percentages would have been expected.
What is more surprising is that honorarium applications have been more frequent in Ontario and British Columbia than in the Federal Court of Australia.
In terms of success, honorarium payments were authorized for at least one representative plaintiff in 32 of these 149 Ontario class actions settled during the Branch period.