As part of this notice procedure, there may have to be several notices, first a notice giving class members the opportunity to opt out of the class, i.e. if individuals wish to proceed with their own litigation they are entitled to do so, only to the extent that they give timely notice to the class counsel or the court that they are opting out. Second, if there is a settlement proposal, the court will usually direct the class counsel to send a settlement notice to all the members of the certified class and all the members of any subclasses (that might have slightly different but uniform claims), informing them of the settlement offer being made by the defendants, and the fact that the named plaintiffs have agreed to accept the settlement. Usually, the court will also state the legal fees being paid to the class counsel as part of the settlement, which may be considerable, making class actions appealing to many plaintiff law firms.
In Federal Civil Procedure Law, which has generally been accepted by most states (through adoption of rules paralleling the FRCP), the class action must have certain definite characteristics: (1) the class must be so large as to make individual suits impractical, (2) there must be legal or factual claims in common (3) the claims or defences must be typical of the plaintiffs or defendants, and (4) the representative parties must adequately protect the interests of the class. In many cases, the party seeking certification must also show (5) that common issues between the class and the defendants will predominate the proceedings, as opposed to individual fact-specific conflicts between class members and the defendants and (6) that the class action, instead of individual litigation, is a superior vehicle for resolution of the disputes at hand.
State Class Actions
Since 1938, many states have adopted rules similar to the FRCP. However, some states like California have homegrown civil procedure codes which they have been reluctant to abandon. The law of class actions in California developed in a rather chaotic fashion through judicial glosses on vaguely worded statutes (there are four key ones), and has never been cleaned up (in the way that the FRCP cleaned up the thicket of federal procedural law). As a result, there are entire treatises dedicated to the topic. Not every state permits class actions. Virginia, for example, does not provide for any class action vehicle.