While companies may not be able to avoid class action litigation entirely, there are a number of steps they can take to lessen the risk of such claims and alleviate their liability.

"What we do with clients is pro-actively [undertake] audits and review their materials so they're no longer interesting to a plaintiff's counsel," says Timothy Buckley, a partner and national leader of the Class Actions Group at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) in Toronto.

Introducing an ombudsman is also a tactic that Barry Glaspell, also a partner in the Toronto office of BLG, will, on occasion, advise companies to make use of. "People sue when they're angry. If you have a way of diverting that negative energy" consumers might be less persuaded to take legal action.

Also key, says Glaspell, is identifying susceptible grounds for litigation ahead of time by way of assessing customer feedback. "Developing a sensitivity or an eye for the correspondence that comes in to the company can help [see problems in advance]," he says.