Opinion of the Court
easily identifiable categories of claimants be protected by provisional certification of subclasses under Rule 23(c)(4), relying instead on its post hoc findings at the fairness hearing that these subclasses in fact had been adequately represented. As will be seen, however, these points will reappear when we review the certification on the Court of Appeals's "limited fund" theory under Rule 23(b)(1)(B). We accordingly turn directly to that.
Although representative suits have been recognized in various forms since the earliest days of English law, see generally S. Yeazell, From Medieval Group Litigation to the Modern Class Action (1987); see also Marcin, Searching for the Origin of the Class Action, 23 Cath. U. L. Rev. 515, 517- 524 (1973), class actions as we recognize them today developed as an exception to the formal rigidity of the necessary parties rule in equity, see Hazard, Gedid, & Sowle, An Historical Analysis of the Binding Effect of Class Suits, 146 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1849, 1859-1860 (1998) (hereinafter Hazard, Gedid, & Sowle), as well as from the bill of peace, an equitable device for combining multiple suits, see Z. Chafee, Some Problems of Equity 161-167, 200-203 (1950). The necessary parties rule in equity mandated that "all persons materially interested, either as plaintiffs or defendants in the subject matter of the bill ought to be made parties to the suit, however numerous they may be." West v. Randall, 29 F. Cas. 718, 721 (No. 17,424) (CC RI) (1820) (Story, J.). But because that rule would at times unfairly deny recovery to the party before the court, equity developed exceptions, among them one to cover situations "where the parties are very numerous, and the court perceives, that it will be almost impossible to bring them all before the court; or where the question is of general interest, and a few may sue for the benefit of the whole; or where the parties form a part of a voluntary associ-Page: Index Previous 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Next
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