1. What is a cy pres award?
When a class action is tried or settled, it is sometimes impossible to distribute all of the award money. Sometimes it is because class members cannot be reached or identified. Other times it is because it is not economically feasible to distribute the money to the entire class, like when the cash distribution is less than the cost of mailing the check. When there is some reason why an award cannot be distributed to some or all of the class members, the law permits the money to be given to a charitable organization. This allows the money to indirectly benefit the class members by advancing the public interest.
Who can receive a cy pres award?
A cy pres award must be distributed to a charitable organization that has some positive connection to the case itself or the class members. Legal aid organizations are often appropriate recipients for cy pres awards because we serve members of disadvantaged groups.
Why should I ask for cy pres funds to be directed to Legal Aid of Arkansas?
Legal Aid of Arkansas is an appropriate beneficiary of cy pres funds in a variety of cases. We provide legal representation to, and protect the rights of, consumers and and other people who would otherwise not have access to justice.
Legal Aid works to protect Arkansans’ livelihoods, homes, health and families. The need for additional funding is particularly acute here, in Arkansas, where there are 16,050 eligible Arkansans for every legal aid attorney. The legal community has a special responsibility to ensure all Arkansans have meaningful access to justice, and cy pres awards can make a substantial contribution toward that effort.
How can I support Legal Aid of Arkansas through cy pres giving?
- Include in any class action settlement agreement, class action settlement order, or class action judgment, a provision which directs that residual class action funds be paid to Legal Aid of Arkansas.
- Share with colleagues information about Cy Pres and let them know that the Arkansas courts have the authority to award residual class action funds to Legal Aid of Arkansas.
- Contact the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation if you require assistance drafting language directing residual funds to the Foundation or to either legal aid program, or know about class action cases that will go to trial in the next year. We will connect you with the appropriate services to assist you in supporting Legal Aid of Arkansas through cy pres giving.
Who should I contact with questions?
Lee Richardson, Executive Director
Legal Aid of Arkansas
870-972-9224 ext. 6306