A hive of activity would certainly be an apt way of describing the securities litigation world in its present guise – a challenging, high-stakes arena in which significant trends and developments regularly permeate the status quo.

Last year saw a great deal of developmental activity in the securities litigation space, such as the systemic impact of the US Supreme Court rulings in the Omnicare and Halliburton cases – judgements that are proving to be significant amid the overall uptick in securities class actions.

Upon inspection, the number and size of securities litigation filings observed by the year’s end, according to ‘Securities Class Actions Filings: 2015 Year in Review’ by Cornerstone Research, was indeed substantial: 234 new federal securities class actions were filed by plaintiffs in 2015 – an 11 percent increase compared to 2014.

Furthermore, the total Disclosure Dollar Loss (DDL) of 2015 cases hit a staggering $106bn, an 86 percent increase on 2014’s $57bn. In terms of Total Maximum Dollar Loss (MDL), there was a 73 percent increase – up from $215bn in 2014 to $371bn in 2015. For both DDL and MDL, 2015 was a below historical average year (historical average for DDL is $121bn, for MDL it is $607bn).

Another trend over the last 12 months concerns the number of mega filings. Cornerstone Research notes five mega DDL cases of at least $5bn and eight mega MDL cases of at least $10bn. This uptick in mega filings is particularly acute when one considers that instances of mega filings were at a historic low at the close of 2014 (DDL at zero and MDL at two).

Apr-Jun 2016 issue

Fraser Tennant