Does My Class Action Case Need a Settlement Website?

The use of a settlement website has a lot to do with how you’ve built the settlement agreement. There are certainly cases that do not require an online claim form process, but in many cases a settlement website is the only interaction a claimant will have with important case information. An easy-to-access website with plain language information has the potential to drive claim rates and satisfy due process for final approval.

In November 2018, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California published new procedural guidelines for class action settlements. In pertinent part, those guidelines specify that notices to potential class members should include “the address for a website, maintained by the claims administrator or class counsel, that has links to the notice, motions for approval and for attorneys’ fees and any other important documents in the case.”

The Northern District is often an industry-guiding force for other courts around the country, and attorneys should expect to adhere to court guidance similar to the Northern District Guidance in other districts.

Website Design Services Improve the Administration of a Class Action Settlement

A settlement website includes documentation for class members, includes all key deadlines such as claim, opt-out, objection deadlines and court hearing dates, as well as important documents that define the class and settlement benefits. If set up with the user in mind, settlement websites can be the medium in which potential class members can easily find all case information they need before filing a claim or taking any other action.

Judges in the Northern District of California recognized the ease of digital resources for class members, and likely other federal districts will follow. In an increasingly digital age, the settlement website is a critical communication link between class members and the resources and/or contacts they need.

Settlement websites can:

  • Provide 24/7 information to class members in the environment they are most likely searching for it – the internet.
  • Track the size and the qualifications of individual class members
  • Integrate class member data from multiple sources, and update data such as addresses and class member information changes during the administration process
  • Facilitate multi-lingual notices
  • Utilize terminology and technology as recommended or required by different courts
  • Comply with all security and privacy rules and regulations
  • Include robust forms and documents in formats that are fully accessible by all who require them.

A well-designed website is an ideal tool to manage the growing complexity of class action settlement administration. Even if other federal districts do not adopt similar guidelines to California’s Northern District, industry trends reveal that settlement websites are a fixture in class action cases.

What to Provide Your Settlement Administrator for a Class Action Website

Before setting up the class action website, settlement administrators must consider the answers to several important questions including:

  • What is the potential class size? How big is the class? Who are you reaching? Who qualifies?
  • What kind of data do you have? Is your data integrated? Are you set up to handle changes of address?
  • What language(s) do class members speak? Should the website be in English or offer alternative languages?
  • What terminology and technology do the courts recommend? A claims administrator can help with this.
  • How complicated is the claim form? Claims forms need testing for accuracy, load time, and ease of use.
  • What type of files require support? Documents can be uploaded as high-quality PDFs, jpegs, tifs or as photos.
  • What security measures are needed? Basic security and validation tools can cut down on fraud, and ensure data integrity.

Contact Heffler Claims Group today for a free consultation.

Class Action Settlement Website Best Practices
Scott Fenwick
Scott M. Fenwick, who serves as Heffler Claims Group’s Chief of Operations, has more than 10 years of hands-on experience in strategic planning, business unit development, project and product management, and professional development of client service teams.

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