Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Community of Interest Definition:

A term of class action law; a requirement for certification, that members of the proposed group represent a community of interests.

Related Terms: Commonality, Class Action

See also commonality.

In Lee v Dynamex, Justice Perluss of the Court of Appeals of California gave not only a working definition of a community of interests but also of the law of class actions generally:

"Class actions are statutorily authorized when the question is one of a common or general interest, of many persons, or when the parties are numerous, and it is impracticable to bring them all before the court. The certification question is essentially a procedural one that does not ask whether an action is legally or factually meritorious. As the focus in a certification dispute is on what type of questions - common or individual - are likely to arise in the action, rather than on the merits of the case, in determining whether there is substantial evidence to support a trial court's certification order, the reviewing court considers whether the theory of recovery advanced by the proponents of certification is, as an analytical matter, likely to prove amenable to class treatment.

"The party seeking certification has the burden to establish the existence of both an ascertainable class and a well-defined community of interest among class members. The community of interest requirement embodies three factors: (1) predominant common questions of law or fact; (2) class representatives with claims or defenses typical of the class; and (3) class representatives who can adequately represent the class. This means each member must not be required to individually litigate numerous and substantial questions to determine his or her right to recover following the class judgment; and the issues which may be jointly tried, when compared with those requiring separate adjudication, must be sufficiently numerous and substantial to make the class action advantageous to the judicial process and to the litigants."

Similarly, in an opinion given by Justice Vogel of the same Court, a year earlier, in Estrada v Fedex wrote:

"A class action requires an ascertainable class with a well-defined community of interest among its members.

"Community of interest, in turn, requires that common questions of law or fact predominate, and that class representatives (who must be able to adequately represent the class) have claims typical of the class. The class is ascertainable if it identifies a group of unnamed plaintiffs by describing a set of common characteristics sufficient to allow a member of that group to identify himself as having a right to recover based on the description."

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