O’Donnell v. Commonwealth
Jurisdiction: Federal Court of Australia
Side A: Kathleen (Katta) O'Donnell (Individual)
Side B: Australia (Government)
Core objectives: Holder of Australian bonds sued government to disclose climate risks.
SummaryOn July 22, 2020, Equity Generation Lawyers filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court on behalf of Kathleen (Katta) O'Donnell against the Australian government. The lawsuit alleges that Australia's economy and reputation in international financial markets will be significantly affected by the adequacy of the Australian government’s response to climate change, and that as a result investors who trade in Australian government bonds face material risks from climate change that should be disclosed. The lawsuit further alleges that that government breached its duty of disclosure and misled and deceived investors in failing to disclose such risks.
The Australian Government sought to strike out the claim in its entirety at a one-day hearing on July 29, 2021. It argued that the applicant had failed to sufficiently articulate precisely what risks should be disclosed. In the strike-out judgment handed down October 8, 2021, the Court rejected this argument and refused the Government’s application to disband the class action. The Court permitted the claim of misleading or deceptive conduct to proceed. However, the applicant’s claims with respect to duty of care and against the Commonwealth officials were struck out.