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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.

On 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. 

O'Donnell seeks to represent other holders of and investors in Exchange-traded Australian Government Bonds who have the same interest in the proceeding. She seeks declarations that the Commonwealth has breached the law and an injunction from the Federal Court to prevent further promotion of bonds without informing investors about climate change 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. 

Ms O’Donnell filed her Third Further Amended Statement of Claim on October 28, 2021. 

The Government’s Defence was filed on December 16, 2021. 

A case management hearing is listed for 9:30am on June 22, 2022.

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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