Litigation finance has overcome initial skepticism regarding litigation funding due to potential ethics issues, such as fee-splitting rules, maintenance, and champerty. Furthermore, modern third-party funding practices do not conflict with such duties as attorney/client privilege, attorney independence, and the work product doctrine.
A magistrate judge in New Jersey overseeing an MDL related to an allegedly contaminated pharmaceutical drug recently denied the defendants’ request for discovery into the plaintiffs’ potential litigation funding arrangements. While the denial of litigation funding discovery is not unique, the decision–which holds that the sought-after information was not relevant to the claims or defenses–is significant in that it leaves no doubt that, without more, requests for fishing expeditions into litigation funding arrangements fail when examined. And that the trend in the case law is in agreement.Read More
Can law firms ethically take litigation funding secured by their anticipated fees? Litigation funding generally comes in two varieties — funding to a claimholder or funding to a law firm. Last year, an advisory ethics opinion by the New York City Bar Association called into question the propriety of providing funding to a law firm…Read More
The latest work product decision in the litigation finance sphere — Acceleration Bay v. Activision Blizzard — bucks the near universal trend of courts finding that the work product doctrine shields disclosure of communications exchanged with an actual or prospective litigation funder. Probably because it used the wrong legal standard.Read More
The U.S. Court’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules signaled in its recently released report that litigation finance continues “growing and evolving” and that considering potential rules mandating disclosure of funding arrangements must begin “if at all, by undertaking a careful quest for information that may be hard to come by.” That process will not proceed…Read More
The closely watched case of Gbarabe v. Chevron – a class action against the oil giant based on an oil rig explosion off the coast of Nigeria – has been portrayed as a cautionary tale for the world of litigation finance. The defense attorneys’ dogged pursuit of the details of plaintiff’s outside funding, the story goes, succeeded, and aided in the attack on the adequacy of plaintiff’s counsel. The defense did successfully defeat class certification, but litigation funding ultimately played little or no role in the case’s demise.Read More
The Draft Report of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration and the Queen Mary University of London Task Force on Third-Party Funding in International Arbitration: What You Need to Know
The international arbitration community has been a leader in the adoption and evolution of third-party funding. Continuing that trend, The International Council for Commercial Arbitration (“ICCA”) partnered with Queen Mary University of London (“QMUL”) in 2013 to establish a task force comprised of over 50 leading international arbitration experts (the “Task Force”) to “identify and study the issues that arise in relation to third-party funding in international arbitration, and to determine what outputs, if any, would be appropriate to address them.”Read More
Claimants considering litigation financing often ask whether financing must be disclosed to U.S. courts. The answer in federal courts – for now – is no (save one limited exception).
Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure currently requires initial disclosure of a broad range of information including the documents and other materials the party expects to use to support its claims or defenses, the computation of categories of damages, the identification of those who might have discoverable information, and insurance agreements. But the rule doesn’t require all potential disclosures, including for example, litigation financing arrangements.Read More
Third party funding of international arbitration disputes has been a hot topic for some time, and more and more we see its globalization take hold. Third party funding and international arbitration are a natural fit because of the great risks, high costs, and large amounts at stake in international arbitration disputes. Third party funding allows those costs and risks to be mitigated by the funder in exchange for a share of the potential award. In the past year, we have seen a noticeable uptick in the number of claimants seeking funding for international arbitration claims. (Lake Whillans funds U.S and Canadian litigation as well as domestic and international arbitration).Read More
The results reflect the growing norm of litigation funding. Forty percent of respondents have had firsthand experience working with a litigation finance firm. Interestingly, law firms with the most experience using litigation finance were the very largest and very smallest firms surveyed: law firm size of 500+ lawyers (48.57%) and law firm size of 2 – 5 lawyers (58.54%). Litigators whose practice concerns the energy industry had the highest proportion of firsthand experience followed by the technology sector; finance/banking had the lowest. A resounding 85% of those with firsthand litigation finance experience would use it again.
For those without firsthand experience, the most commonly cited reason for ruling out the possibility of litigation finance by nearly 75% of negative respondents was “ethical reservations.” We’d like to address those reservations with a primer on the ethics of litigation finance.Read More
Recently, the race in Asia has led Hong Kong and Singapore to introduce legislation that would enable the use of third-party funding in arbitrations seated there. Lake Whillans funds litigation and arbitration globally, and we asked Nicholas Lingard, Robert Kirkness and Emily Stennett of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s international arbitration practice in Asia to detail the recent developments in Hong Kong and Singapore.Read More