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Burford Capital Appoints KPMG LLP as Independent Auditor

By Harry Moran |

Burford Capital Limited (“Burford”), the leading global finance and asset management firm focused on law, is pleased to announce that, on July 1, 2024, the audit committee (the “Audit Committee”) of Burford’s board of directors (the “Board”) has approved, and the Board has ratified, the appointment of KPMG LLP (“KPMG”) as Burford’s independent registered public accounting firm. KPMG will review Burford’s consolidated financial statements for the three and nine months ending September 30, 2024 and will audit Burford’s consolidated financial statements for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2024.

KPMG replaces Ernst & Young LLP (“E&Y”), which has served as Burford’s independent auditor since 2010. While Burford is not subject to traditional UK mandatory auditor rotation every ten years, Burford is nevertheless conscious of shareholder feedback about best practices in the UK market and, while it would have been disruptive to have rotated auditors during the transition to US GAAP and the addition of our New York Stock Exchange listing, with those items behind us now is an appropriate moment to abide by those best practices and move to another Big Four accounting firm.

KPMG’s appointment is subject to the ratification of Burford’s shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting (the “2024 EGM”) to be held in due course.

Dismissal of Previous Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

On July 1, 2024, the Audit Committee has also approved, and the Board has ratified, the dismissal of E&Y as Burford’s independent registered public accounting firm, effective immediately following the issuance of Burford’s consolidated financial statements for the three and six months ended June 30, 2024.

The reports of E&Y on Burford’s consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 did not contain an adverse opinion or a disclaimer of opinion and were not qualified or modified as to uncertainty, audit scope or accounting principles. In connection with the audits of Burford’s consolidated financial statements for each of the fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 and during the period from the end of the most recently completed fiscal year ended December 31, 2023 through July 1, 2024 (the “Interim Period”), there were no “disagreements” (as defined in Item 304(a)(1)(iv) of Regulation S-K) with E&Y on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure or auditing scope or procedure which “disagreements”, if not resolved to the satisfaction of E&Y, would have caused E&Y to make reference to the subject matter of the “disagreements” in connection with their report for such years. There were no “reportable events” (as described in Item 304(a)(1)(v) of Regulation S-K) during the two fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 or the Interim Period, except for certain identified material weaknesses in Burford’s internal controls relating to:

  • a lack of available evidence to demonstrate the precision of management’s review of certain assumptions used in the measurement of the fair value of capital provision assets as disclosed in Burford’s annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2023 filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on March 28, 2024, which Burford is in the process of remediating as of the date of this announcement; and
  • the determination of Burford’s approach to measure the fair value of capital provision assets in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification Topic 820—Fair Value Measurement, as disclosed in Burford’s annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2022 filed with the SEC on May 16, 2023, which was remediated at December 31, 2023.

The Audit Committee discussed the “reportable events” with E&Y, and Burford has authorized E&Y to respond fully to the inquiries of KPMG, as successor auditor, concerning the subject matter of such “reportable events”.

Pursuant to Item 304(a)(3) of Regulation S-K, Burford provided E&Y with a copy of the disclosures in this announcement prior to furnishing this announcement under the cover of Form 6-K to the SEC, and E&Y has furnished a letter addressed to the SEC stating that E&Y agrees with the statements set forth in this paragraph and the two immediately preceding paragraphs above. A copy of E&Y’s letter, dated July 9, 2024, has been furnished as Exhibit 99.1 to the Form 6-K.

Appointment of New Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

On and effective as of July 1, 2024, KPMG was appointed as Burford’s independent registered public accounting firm for the three and nine months ending September 30, 2024 and for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2024. The Audit Committee approved, and the Board ratified, the appointment of KPMG, subject to the shareholder approval at the 2024 EGM. 

During Burford’s two most recent fiscal years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 and the Interim Period, neither Burford nor anyone acting on its behalf has consulted KPMG regarding either (i) the application of accounting principles to a specified transaction, either completed or proposed, or the type of audit opinion that might be rendered on Burford’s consolidated financial statements, and neither a written report nor oral advice was provided to Burford that KPMG concluded was an important factor considered by Burford in reaching a decision as to any accounting, auditing or financial reporting issue or (ii) any matter that was either the subject of a “disagreement” (as defined in Item 304(a)(1)(iv) of Regulation S-K) or a “reportable event” (as described in Item 304(a)(1)(v) of Regulation S-K).

About Burford Capital

Burford Capital is the leading global finance and asset management firm focused on law. Its businesses include litigation finance and risk management, asset recovery and a wide range of legal finance and advisory activities. Burford is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: BUR) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE: BUR), and it works with companies and law firms around the world from its offices in New York, London, Chicago, Washington, DC, Singapore, Dubai, Sydney and Hong Kong.For more information, please visit www.burfordcapital.com.

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Allia Group Appoints Seasoned Legal Strategist Justin Fitzdam as General Counsel

By Harry Moran |

Allia Group, the innovative legal finance firm exclusively specializing in healthcare insurer disputes, is excited to announce that Justin Fitzdam has been appointed as General Counsel. Mr. Fitzdam is based in Allia Group’s Nashville office.

Fitzdam has extensive in-house healthcare litigation expertise. In his 11 year tenure at HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest hospital systems and healthcare service providers, he spearheaded the development of their nationwide litigation program against managed care payors. In addition, he oversaw all litigation, regulatory enforcement and compliance, investigations, and related legal issues for a substantial portfolio of HCA’s facilities and affiliates. His strong track record of successful litigation against the largest health insurance companies resulted in several of HCA’s largest judgments.

Over the course of his career, Fitzdam brings nearly 20 years of litigation, mediation, and arbitration experience across a broad range of large, complex, and highly regulated industries.He began his career in private practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and then Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP where he represented clients on both the plaintiff and defendant sides in all federal and state court levels, including the United States Supreme Court.

Fitzdam holds a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Florida.

In his new role, Fitzdam will be responsible for leading and implementing litigation strategy for Allia Group’s portfolio of litigation and will serve as the head legal advisor to the CEO and senior management. In addition, he will also define new areas of growth and oversee the underwriting of legal risks related to new business and transactions.

“We are thrilled to welcome Justin to the team,” said Eliot Listman, CEO of Allia Group. “His expertise with payor litigation in both in network and out of network cases will be indispensable. He is an ideal fit as our strategy grows to include solutions for even the largest hospital systems and physician groups in the battle against big health insurance. We are fortunate to have Justin on the team in our mission to hold payors accountable for bad behavior.”

About Allia Group:

Allia Group specializes in litigation finance solutions to improve the financial position of healthcare providers. To demand responsibility from healthcare insurers, Allia litigates and arbitrates against these payors and structures the purchase of underpaid claims and legal rights to monetize these assets, benefitting providers’ cash flow. Allia has the experience to address the needs of hospital systems, physician groups, and emergency transportation businesses. Visit www.allia.group to learn more.

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CourtCorrect, Leader in Complaints AI, Completes Funding Round from Industry Veterans

By Harry Moran |

CourtCorrect, the market leader in complaints resolution with AI, is pleased to share that we have successfully completed a funding round from industry veterans to fuel our growth and product development.

CourtCorrect is an AI startup based in London, focusing on the safe deployment of artificial intelligence technologies to improve the efficiency, quality and root cause analysis of complaints resolution. We work with clients across financial services and other regulated industries and process thousands of cases every week.

Investors participating in the round include both existing and new investors such as Alain Dehaze (former CEO of Fortune 500 The Adecco Group), Philippe Verboogen (Managing Director at BlackRock and the driving force behind the Growth of eFront Solutions prior to being acquired by BlackRock for >$1bn) and Dr. David Wicki-Birchler (Head of Compliance at a Swiss Banking Group).

This further funding, coming on top of over £2m in Seed Funding raised from 20VC, Visionaries Club, Ascension VC and Concept Ventures will allow CourtCorrect to invest in its growth trajectory as clients scale their use of the platform and new firms onboard to the future of complaints resolution.

Additionally, this funding enables CourtCorrect to further invest in product development, including assisting clients with root cause analysis as we continue to position the company as the market leader for complaints resolution with AI.

Alain Dehaze had this to say about the funding round:

“We are delighted to support CourtCorrect in her growth ambitions and to build on the strong impact her clients have been seeing from AI. We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with Ludwig and the team by providing a strategic investment as well as guidance on scaling up the sales function. Good luck to the whole team!”

Ludwig Bull had this to add following the completion of the round:

“This investment comes at the perfect time for CourtCorrect. Following tremendous growth in the last 12 months, we are looking forward to investing directly in our Go-To-Market strategy as well as continue to build out the platform in close collaboration with our clients. I’m sure that this vote of confidence in our team, product and business model will propel CourtCorrect to new heights.”

Thank you to our investors, team members and advisers who supported this investment round.

About CourtCorrect:

CourtCorrect works with clients across financial services and other regulated markets to improve the efficiency, quality and root cause analysis of complaints resolution. By leveraging the most recent advances in AI and with an expert team drawn from machine learning and financial services compliance backgrounds, CourtCorrect processes thousands of cases every week to create a win-win-win for consumers, businesses and regulators.

CourtCorrect assists clients across the resolution process, including generating letters and other correspondence, structuring and extracting key insights from documents, assessing potential outcomes against the backdrop of internal policies and regulations and identifying root causes both in individual cases and in aggregate. As a result, businesses save time, improve the quality of resolution, remediate complaints causes effectively, improve customer retention and align more closely with regulatory rules, including Consumer Duty.Please feel free to contact us at hello@courtcorrect.com or request a free trial of the platform on our website: https://platform.courtcorrect.com/signup

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4 Rivers and Case Legal Media Form Strategic Alliance

By Harry Moran |

4 Rivers and Case Legal Media (“CASE”) are pleased to announce a strategic alliance to collaborate to assist law firms which operate in the mass torts space with case origination and funding. 

Law firms acting for mass tort claimants are often in the position where they require external funding to provide working capital for themselves, as well as case costs and expenses, while the claims are in progress. Law firms must therefore be properly funded so that they can pursue further actions which benefit from CASE’s acquisition and intake expertise.  4 Rivers has extensive know-how and bespoke tools which can be used to secure such finance from diverse sources of capital.  

The two firms have recognised that there will be considerable value in working with each other on projects and generally from sharing intellectual capital, and contacts in the legal and funding sectors, as well as deriving further benefits from sharing support, resources, and infrastructure.

Peter Petyt, Chief Executive Officer of 4 Rivers, said: “I am delighted that 4 Rivers and Case Legal Media will be working together to help law firms to secure the right type and amount of finance to allow them to acquire meritorious cases and run the cases with sufficient resources to give them every chance of a successful outcome.”   George Young, Founder of CASE Legal Media, said: 

“CASE Legal Media is excited for the opportunity to partner with Peter and his team.  We are always looking for ways to improve our services and add value to our law firm partners, and we think the resources provided by 4 Rivers can give our clients a unique level of market intelligence to navigate the world of litigation finance.”

About 4 Rivers

4 Rivers is a legal finance advisor and brokerage which originates claims either from claimants direct or through law firms. It has relationships in place with the major third-party funders based throughout the world, as well as multi-strategy funds, family offices, private equity funds, and private credit funds.

It also advises on law firm strategy and mergers and acquisitions in the wider legal services sector.  4 Rivers also has long established relationships with lawyers and attorneys, barristers, valuation experts, forensic accountants, e-discovery vendors, investigations companies, asset tracers, costs companies and other specialists in order to assemble the right team to enable third-party funding to be secured and/or a contingency arrangement to be negotiated.

About Case Legal Media 

CASE Legal Media helps law firms procure thousands of cases in both national mass tort and local personal injury campaigns, using the power of television, radio, and digital media together to deliver low cost and high-quality case acquisition. CASE assists clients in all aspects of client acquisition, from marketing to intake to records retrieval. They are currently active in a number of case acquisition marketing campaigns for their law firm partners, including Asbestos, Camp LeJeune, Hair Relaxer, MVA, NEC, and PFAS, amongst others. CASE has a database of approximately 4,000 law firms with whom it has had a range of contacts in the past. 

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ALFA Welcomes Mackay Chapman as Newest Associate Member

By Harry Moran |

In a post on LinkedIn, The Association of Litigation Funders of Australia (ALFA) announced that it is welcoming Mackay Chapman as its newest Associate Member. Mackay Chapman becomes the 12th Associate Member of ALFA, following the inclusion of Litica in April of this year.

Mackay Chapman is a boutique legal and advisory firm, specialising in high-stakes regulatory, financial services and insolvency disputes. The Melbourne-based law firm was founded in 2016 by Dan Mackay and Michael Chapman, who bring 25 years of experience in complex disputes to the business.More information about Mackay Chapman can be found on its website.

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Burford German Funding Sued Over Hausfeld Ownership Stake

By Harry Moran |

The ownership or funding of law firms by litigation funders continues to be a hot topic in the world of legal funding, with models such as alternative business structures (ABS) gaining momentum in places like Arizona. However, a complaint filed by a client in Delaware reveals a falling out due to the reverse funding model, where a law firm maintained an ownership stake in the funder.

Reporting by Bloomberg Law covers a new lawsuit brought against Burford German Funding (BGF), an affiliate of Burford Capital, by a client who claims that the funder failed to disclose the fact that BGF was partly owned by the same law firm it nominated to lead the client’s antitrust cases. Financialright Claims GMBH (FRC) alleges that when it negotiated the funding agreement with BGF for its antitrust litigation against the trucks cartel, it had no knowledge “that Hausfeld  was  also  a  part  owner  of  BGF  through  an  entity  called German Litigation Solutions LLC (“GLS”) or that one of the lead German partners at Hausfeld responsible for the firm’s representation of FRC had a personal stake.”

The complaint, filed by FRC in the Delaware Superior Court, explains that as Hausfeld is part-owner of BGF, and the funding agreement “provides for a share of FRC’s recoveries in the Trucks Litigations to flow to FRC’s lawyers”, this constitutes a contingency fee arrangement which are illegal under German law.  FRC had filed a lawsuit against Hausfeld in a German court and then applied for discovery from BGF, Burford and GLS in the Delaware District Court, which was followed by an assertion by these parties that the application for discovery “is subject to mandatory arbitration” under the terms of the funding agreement.

FRC argues that “as  a  direct  result  of  BGF’s  fraud  on  FRC,  FRC  did  agree  to  the Arbitration Agreement that—according to BGF—subsumes disputes between FRC and GLS.” However, FRC claims that it “would  never  have  agreed  to  an  arbitration  clause  requiring  it  to arbitrate claims against Hausfeld”, were it not for the concealment of Hausfeld’s ownership stake in BGF. FRC is therefore asking the Superior Court to declare that “BGF fraudulently induced  FRC  into  agreeing  to  the  Arbitration  Agreement”, and that the agreement should be declared both invalid and unenforceable.

Lisa Sharrow, spokesperson at Hausfeld LLP, provided the following statement:  “The US-based Hausfeld LLP and the UK-based Hausfeld & Co LLP hold indirect economic minority interests in Burford German Funding. These are separate legal entities from Hausfeld Rechtsanwälte LLP that do not practice law in Germany. Burford German Funding was of course developed and set up in a way that was fully compliant with all relevant regulations.”

David Helfenbein, spokesperson at Burford, also provided a response to Bloomberg via email: “There is a dispute in Germany between a client Burford has funded and its lawyers. Burford is not a party to that dispute and its outcome has no impact on us. This Delaware proceeding is a third-party discovery request to Burford for material for the German litigation, which Burford believes should be adjudicated in arbitration and not in the Delaware courts.”

The full complaint filed by FRC can be read here.

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Litigation Funders: We’re Unsexy and We Know it!

By Maurice Power |

The following article was contributed by Maurice Power, Chief Executive Officer of Apex Litigation Finance. Apex is an established litigation funder providing bespoke funding solutions to small/mid-size commercial claims in the UK.

The widely reported panel session on litigation funding, at the recent London International Disputes Week, was wide ranging and thought provoking, with several insightful comments from Judge Sara Cockerill, former head of the Commercial Court, and the three senior lawyers who joined her on the panel. 

Mrs Justice Cockerill shared her concerns that whilst “sexy” cases, such as those which can be commoditised (e.g. competition or class action claims) or fit well into a funder’s portfolio, are most likely to be funded, other claims are less likely to be funded.  I think those familiar with the litigation funding market would broadly agree with those sentiments.  However,  contrary to that view, new entrants to the litigation funding market, including Apex Litigation Finance, are increasing the funding options available to litigating parties.  One off mid-sized claims by SMEs, individuals and insolvency practitioners are of interest to certain funders, even if the claims are deemed not to be “sexy”!

Apex was set up specifically to fund mid-sized claims.  One of Apex’s USPs is that we have no minimum funding need, so we are able to offer funding solutions for claims where, for example, only disbursements need funding. For a range of mid-sized claims  a cash injection from a funder can allow a case to proceed when it would otherwise be stymied.  The sort of claims Apex typically fund probably fall outside of the description of “sexy” used in the panel session due to their size and nature.

An SME (as well as individuals and insolvency practitioners), when faced with the reality of funding the costs of litigation, the delaying tactics of defendants, the adverse costs risk exposure and lengths of cases in the Commercial Courts, may simply be unable to afford the risk or cost of pursuing a meritorious case, or may prefer to spread and share some of the risks that come with all litigation in order to access justice. 

There is a gap between the sorts of cases typically brought by an SME and those of interest to the larger high profile funders.  Claims for breach of contract, business interruption cover insurance, professional negligence and shareholder disputes (to name some examples), as well as claims brought in insolvency processes, rarely involve claim values of more than £10m and yet they may not be pursued as many funders are simply not interested in supporting lower value cases. Litigation funding is just as essential in providing access to justice for these sorts of claims, as for the larger claims and class actions.  That funding gap is increasingly being addressed by funders such as Apex, who focus not on the scale of the investment but whether flexible funding, alongside a legal team working on full or partial CFAs, can enable these sorts of claims to be pursued in a cost-effective manner to deliver a decent commercial return to the funded client.

Whilst Apex bases their return on a multiple of funds deployed, as opposed to being paid a percentage of realisations, the impact of the PACCAR case on the wider litigation funding market is not helpful for the promotion of the concept of litigation funding and building confidence in the market.  The Litigation Funding Agreements Bill has been stood down for now, given the pending general election, but it is essential that it is revisited as soon after the election as possible, a sentiment we share with Mrs Justice Cockerill.

Mrs Justice Cockerill accepted that it is not feasible to have a single cap on the costs of funding and called for more transparency so both parties know what they are selling and what they are buying.  Many funders, including Apex, provide a funding facility with the funder’s fee based on a multiple of funds deployed, an approach which should be easily understood by the litigant seeking funding, and thus provides the transparency the litigant needs to calculate the costs.  I personally love a spreadsheet and am happy to set out the likely returns to the client in a series of scenarios, including an early settlement, a successful mediation, a deal done on the Court steps and (usually the worst for all parties) an outcome at trial, with some clearly set out assumptions.

The UK has a rapidly developing litigation funding market which Apex is proud to be an active part of.  That a senior Judge has endorsed the concept of litigation funding is great to hear.  The market would be wise to listen to the issues raised by commentators such as Lady Justice Cockerill, who have a deep understanding of the challenges facing litigating parties, and continue to evolve their approach and offerings to address the needs of as wide a range of litigating parties as possible.  That can and should include the “unsexy” cases.

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CASL Targets Australian Investors in Launch of New $150M Litigation Fund

By Harry Moran |

Leading Australian litigation funder CASL today launched a $150 million fund giving local investors the opportunity to participate in funding of selected new class actions including product liability and other mass consumer claims, commercial litigation and insolvency claims. 

CASL Fund 2 is expected to appeal to Australian sophisticated investors seeking exposure to a truly alternative asset class with attractive risk-adjusted returns and a capital-protected option. The fund is well suited to high-net worth individuals, family offices and foundations seeking to diversify into uncorrelated ESG assets. 

Co-founded in 2020 by two of Australia’s most experienced litigation funders, John Walker and Stuart Price, CASL has quickly established a reputation as an astute backer of legal claims in the competitive Australian market. The two completed actions filed with the backing of CASL’s inaugural $156 million fund since 2022 have returned 165% to investors; another 11 actions are in progress. 

Considered a pioneer of litigation funding in Australia, CASL Executive Chair John Walker co-founded IMF Bentham, now Omni Bridgeway, in 1998 while CASL CEO Mr Price was CEO of Litigation Lending Services for six years prior to co-founding CASL. 

Mr Price said litigation funding had an important role to play in levelling the legal playing field for victims of corporate or government misconduct, and investors were important partners in this process. 

“In global terms Australia is a receptive jurisdiction for the filing of group claims and funded actions but there is increasingly a premium on funders with proven expertise in sourcing and qualifying claims, and managing them to a successful resolution,” Mr Price said. 

“CASL brings that – our team has a proven record for deploying funds efficiently in support of worthy claims and generating strong financial outcomes for both claimants and investors. 

“We see a healthy pipeline of potential new actions in Australia with good prospects and considerable upside for investors willing to fund them. This fund will be a rare opportunity for investors to participate in a purely domestic litigation funding play backed by an experienced local team with a proven record for generating returns for investors. Early indications are we have $30 million in investor pre-commitments so there is clearly an appetite for litigation funding as an alternative asset class.” 

The combined success rate of 183 funded claims involving Mr Walker or Mr Price since 1996 is 92%. These cases have delivered settlement proceeds of $2.6 billion with an average duration of two and half years. 

The launch of CASL Fund 2 comes amid a changing landscape for class actions in Australia, with consumer actions overtaking securities actions as the leading type of funded claim, reflecting the development of effective legislation to hold large corporates to account. 

An innovative feature of the CASL Fund 2 offer is the ability of investors to elect a capital-protected allocation option with a discounted target return.

Key features of the offer include:

 CASL Fund 2: Up to $150m, Class A and Class B Units
 Class AClass B
Capital protectionYesNo
Fund term5 years
(2 years investment, 3 years harvest)
Hurdle rate per annum10%12%
Performance fee (after hurdle, fees and costs)40%25%
Management fee (% of capital commitment) per annum2%2%

Funds raised will be deployed only into new actions, with all existing funded matters funded by CASL Fund 1. No distinction will be made between Class A and B funds for the purposes of funding actions. 

An estimated $200m to $300m is deployed by litigation funders supporting legal claims in Australia, excluding law firms’ funding of actions from their own balance sheets. The most active sources of funding for Australian actions are based offshore and include hedge funds and specialist asset managers, many domiciled in tax-friendly jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands and Channels Islands, attracted to Australia’s relatively receptive environment for group claims. 

CASL’s Fund 2 will be an Australian-domiciled unit trust. Bell Potter is lead manager for the CASL Fund 2 capital raise. 

Mr Price said: “Agility and responsiveness are important in selecting claims and bringing litigation – being based locally, CASL has the advantage of being able to move and make decisions quickly when required.” 

To coincide with the fundraise CASL announced that Ian Stone, former Group Managing Director and CEO of RAA, would join the Board of CASL’s Trustee entity CASL Funder Pty Limited. Tania Sulan, former Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer – Australia for Omni Bridgeway will also join the CASL Investment Committee. Visit www.casl.com.au for more information about CASL Fund 2.

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Almaden Announces Litigation Financing of up to $9.5 million

By Harry Moran |

Almaden Minerals Ltd. (“Almaden” or “the Company”; TSX: AMM; OTCQB: AAUAF) is pleased to announce that further to its press release of June 17, 2024, it has confirmed non-recourse litigation funding in the amount of up to US$9.5 million to pursue its international arbitration proceedings against the United Mexican States (“Mexico”) under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”). The Company has also agreed with Almadex Minerals Ltd. (“Almadex”) to an extension to the maturity of its gold loan, and a litigation management agreement to help streamline corporate management of the arbitration process.

  • Non-recourse funding secured to pursue international arbitration proceedings against Mexico;
  • Globally leading counterparty validates quality of legal claims;
  • Gold loan maturity pushed out from March 31, 2026 to March 31, 2030;
  • Litigation Management Agreement streamlines corporate management of the arbitration proceedings to save money and time.

Litigation Financing

The Company has signed a litigation funding agreement (“LFA”) with a leading legal finance provider. The facility is available for immediate draw down for Almaden to pursue damages against Mexico under the CPTPP resulting from Mexico’s actions which blocked the development of the Ixtaca project and ultimately retroactively terminated the Company’s mineral concessions, causing the loss of the Company’s investments in Mexico.

The LFA provides funding which is expected to cover all legal, tribunal and external expert costs of the legal claims, as well as some corporate operating expenses as may be required. The funding is repayable in the event that a damages award is recovered from Mexico, with such repayment being a contingent entitlement to those damages.

The financing follows extensive due diligence by the finance provider. The financing size as well as the quality of the provider is testament to the strength of the Company’s legal claims against Mexico.

Gold Loan Amendment

The Company is also pleased to report that it has agreed with Almadex to extend the maturity of the gold loan (see press release of May 14, 2019) from March 31, 2026 to the earlier of March 31, 2030 or the receipt by Almaden or its subsidiary of any amount relating to its legal claims against Mexico.

In return for this amendment, in addition to its obligation to repay the gold loan, the Company has agreed to pay Almadex 2.0% of the gross amount of any damages award that Almaden may receive as a result of the legal claims, such repayment to be subordinate to amounts due under the LFA, and any additional legal and management fees.

Litigation Management Agreement

Finally, the Company has agreed with Almadex and its Mexican subsidiary to streamline the management of the arbitration proceedings by entering into a Litigation Management Agreement (“LMA”). Under the LMA, Almaden will bear the up-front costs of the arbitration and provide overall direction to the arbitration process for itself and its subsidiaries, as well as Almadex and its subsidiaries, with certain limitations. Almadex will remain a party to the arbitration and continue in its cooperation and support of the process. As noted above, Almaden has already secured litigation funding in the amount anticipated to be needed to fully prosecute the arbitration proceedings.

Should the arbitration proceedings result in an award of damages, the pro rata portion of those damages, if any, which may be attributable to Almadex from the 2.0% NSR royalty it held on the Ixtaca project will be determined. Almadex’s award will consist of this pro rata portion, less its pro rata share of the costs of pursuing the legal claims, including the financing costs (the “Almadex Award”). Almadex will compensate Almaden in the amount of 10% of the Almadex Award in exchange for managing the claim proceedings.

Safe Harbor Statement

Certain of the statements and information in this news release constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian provincial securities laws. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements or information. Forward-looking statements or information in this news release relate to, among other things, the total potential cost of the legal claims and the sufficiency of the money available under the LFA to cover these costs, the ability of the LMA to streamline corporate management of the legal claims, and the result and damages arising from the Company’s request for arbitration.

These forward-looking statements and information reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events and are necessarily based upon a number of assumptions that, while considered reasonable by the Company, are inherently subject to significant legal, regulatory, business, operational and economic uncertainties and contingencies, and such uncertainty generally increases with longer-term forecasts and outlook. These assumptions include: stability and predictability in Mexico’s response to the arbitration process under the CPTPP; stability and predictability in the application of the CPTPP and arbitral decisions thereon; the ability to continue to finance the arbitration process, and continued respect for the rule of law in Mexico. The foregoing list of assumptions is not exhaustive.

The Company cautions the reader that forward-looking statements and information involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information contained in this news release. Such risks and other factors include, among others, risks related to: the application of the CPTPP and arbitral decisions thereon; continued respect for the rule of law in Mexico; political risk in Mexico; crime and violence in Mexico; corruption in Mexico; uncertainty as to the outcome of arbitration; as well as those factors discussed the section entitled “Risk Factors” in Almaden’s Annual Information Form and Almaden’s latest Form 20-F on file with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could affect the Company and may cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements or information, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that our forward-looking statements or information will prove to be accurate. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements or information. Except as required by law, the Company does not assume any obligation to release publicly any revisions to on forward-looking statements or information contained in this news release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

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Wordsmith Raises $5M to Empower Lawyers to Scale with AI

By Harry Moran |

Wordsmith, the AI-powered legal assistant platform, has raised $5 million to transform the legal industry and unleash a new generation of hyper-skilled legal professionals.

The seed funding was led by Index Ventures, with participation from General Catalyst and angel investors including Skyscanner founder Gareth Williams. The investment is a sign of how applied AI is rapidly augmenting and enabling professional services – a shift as profound as the transition to digital devices and word processing 40 years ago.

“AI is not about replacing professionals. It’s about making them better at their jobs,” explains Wordsmith CEO Ross McNairn. “Just as the word processor didn’t replace writers, but instead made them more productive, Wordsmith is ushering in a new era of AI-assisted professional services.”

Wordsmith is solving a critical problem faced by in-house legal teams: the overwhelming volume of routine tasks that leave lawyers struggling to keep up with the demands of the business. From confirming policy details to contract analysis and complex financing, the demand for human judgment and the consequences of oversight are high – yet many of the outputs are repeatable and templated. Wordsmith customers get 90% of the through-put of a world-class lawyer and a 99% cost reduction versus going to a law firm, all within 60 seconds.

Hannah Seal, the partner at Index Ventures who led the investment, says: “Wordsmith is at the vanguard of a fundamental shift in how professional services are delivered. It’s not about replacement but augmentation. By harnessing the power of generative AI, they’re not only transforming the legal industry, but also paving the way for a future in which AI-assisted professionals can provide better, faster, and more affordable services to their clients.”

Wordsmith was founded in 2023 by Ross McNairn, Volodymyr Giginiak and Robbie Falkenthal. After training as a lawyer, McNairn sold his first startup to Skyscanner in 2016 and most recently was Chief Product and Technology Officer at Travelperk. CTO Giginiak, one of the first engineers at Meta in London who worked for a decade in key roles at Facebook and Instagram, was helping to implement anti-drone technology for the Ukrainian army before joining Wordsmith. Robbie Falkenthal, COO, is a qualified lawyer who has previously held senior roles at KPMG and Travelperk.For additional information regarding Wordsmith visit https://www.wordsmith.ai/ and follow on LinkedIn.

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Nakiki SE: New Litigation Funding Agreement, Value in Dispute EUR 5 Million: Funding for Defendant

By Harry Moran |

Nakiki SE announces that Legal Finance International GmbH has concluded a litigation financing agreement with a value in dispute of up to EUR 5 million. This litigation financing agreement relates to funding for the defendant:

In selected individual cases, Legal Finance also finances the legal costs of the opposing party or defendant and, in the event of victory, receives twice the legal costs incurred as well as a staggered one-off payment as a premium. In this case, the premium can be up to EUR 785,000.

NAKIKI SE
Johnsallee 30
20148 Hamburg
Germany

Andreas Wegerich, CEO Nakiki

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Armadillo Litigation Funding Welcomes Nicole Bakare, Esq. as New Managing Director

By Harry Moran |

Armadillo Litigation Funding, a premier and trusted alternative asset class litigation funding company, is pleased to announce the appointment of Nicole Bakare, Esq. as the new Managing Director. In this role, Ms. Bakare will enhance and expand the underlying credit offering of the company’s platform and assist in monitoring current portfolios, contributing to the strategic growth and success of the firm and its clients.

Ms. Bakare joins Armadillo Litigation Funding from the Houston office of a large multinational law firm, where she represented corporate clients across a variety of industries in all phases of civil litigation, including state and federal courts, arbitration, and bankruptcy-related litigation. Her extensive experience and dedication to excellence make her a valuable addition to the Armadillo team.

“We are thrilled to have Nicole Bakare join our team,” said Jeff Manley, Chief Operating Officer of Armadillo Litigation Funding. “Her legal expertise and strategic insight will be instrumental in driving our investment evaluation processes and enhancing our portfolio, ultimately benefiting the firms we serve by providing more effective and targeted funding solutions.”

Ms. Bakare is a graduate of The University of Michigan and Tulane University Law School. She has been a member of the State Bar of Texas since 2006. Throughout her career, she has held prominent positions at Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Cozen O’Connor; Doyle, Restrepo, Harvin & Robbins LLP; and served as a briefing attorney to Justice Evelyn V. Keyes at the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas.

Ms. Bakare expressed her enthusiasm about joining Armadillo Litigation Funding, stating, “I am honored to join Armadillo Litigation Funding, a firm renowned for its excellence and commitment to providing top-tier funding solutions in the complex litigation space,” said Nicole Bakare. “I look forward to leveraging my experience to support our clients and help drive their success through strategic investment evaluation and dedicated service.”

For more information about Armadillo Litigation Funding and its services, please visit www.armadillolf.com.

About Armadillo Litigation Funding: Armadillo Litigation Funding is a leading provider of alternative asset class funding in mass tort, consumer, and commercial litigation. Armadillo offers general obligation loans secured by the borrowers’ interests in current and future awards, including, but not limited to, contingent fees.

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Navigating the Legal Landscape: Best Practices for Implementing AI

By Anthony Johnson |

The following article was contributed by Anthony Johnson, CEO of the Johnson Firm and Stellium.

The ascent of AI in law firms has thrust the intricate web of complexities and legal issues surrounding their implementation into the spotlight. As law firms grapple with the delicate balance between innovation and ethical considerations, they are tasked with navigating the minefield of AI ethics, AI bias, and synthetic data. Nevertheless, within these formidable challenges, law firms are presented with a singular and unparalleled opportunity to shape the landscape of AI law, copyright ownership decisively, and AI human rights.

Conducting Due Diligence on AI Technologies

Law firms embarking on the integration of AI into their practices must commence with conducting comprehensive due diligence. This process entails a precise evaluation of the AI technology’s origins, development process, and the integrity of the data utilized for training. Safeguarding that the AI systems adopted must be meticulously developed with legally sourced and unbiased data sets. This measure is the linchpin in averting potential ethical or legal repercussions. It is especially paramount to be acutely mindful of the perils posed by AI bias and AI hallucination, both of which have the potential to undermine the fairness and credibility of legal outcomes.

Guidelines must decisively address the responsible use of AI, encompassing critical issues related to AI ethics, AI law, and copyright ownership. Furthermore, defining the scope of AI’s decision-making power within legal cases is essential to avert any over-reliance on automated processes. By setting these boundaries, law firms demonstrate compliance with existing legal standards and actively shape the development of new norms in the rapidly evolving realm of legal AI.

Training and Awareness Programs for Lawyers

Implementing AI tech in law firms isn’t just a technical challenge; it’s also a cultural shift. Regular training and awareness programs must be conducted to ensure responsible and effective use. These programs should focus on legal tech training, providing lawyers and legal staff with a deep understanding of AI capabilities and limitations. Addressing ethical AI use and the implications of AI on human rights in daily legal tasks is also required. Empowering legal teams with knowledge and tools will enhance their technological competence and drive positive change.

Risks and Ethical Considerations of Using AI in Legal Practices

Confidentiality and Data Privacy Concerns

The integration of AI within legal practices presents substantial risks concerning confidentiality and data privacy. Law firms entrusted with handling sensitive information must confront the stark reality that the deployment of AI technologies directly threatens client confidentiality if mishandled. AI systems’ insatiable appetite for large datasets during training lays bare the potential for exposing personal client data to unauthorized access or breaches. Without question, unwaveringly robust data protection measures must be enacted to safeguard trust and uphold the legal standards of confidentiality.

Intellectual Property and Copyright Issues

The pivotal role of AI in content generation has ignited intricate debates surrounding intellectual property rights and copyright ownership. As AI systems craft documents and materials, determining rightful ownership—be it the AI, the developer, or the law firm—emerges as a fiercely contested matter. This not only presents legal hurdles but also engenders profound ethical deliberations concerning the attribution and commercialization of AI-generated content within the legal domain.

Bias and Discrimination in AI Outputs

The critical risk looms large: the potential for AI to perpetuate or even exacerbate biases. AI systems, mere reflections of the data they are trained on, stand as monuments to the skewed training materials that breed discriminatory outcomes. This concern is especially poignant in legal practices, where the mandate for fair and impartial decisions reigns supreme. Addressing AI bias is not just important; it is imperative to prevent the unjust treatment of individuals based on flawed or biased AI assessments, thereby upholding the irrefutable principles of justice and equality in legal proceedings.

Worst Case Scenarios: The Legal Risks and Pitfalls of Misusing AI

Violations of Client Confidentiality

The most egregious risk lies in the potential violation of client confidentiality. Law firms that dare to integrate AI tools must guarantee that these systems are absolutely impervious to breaches that could compromise sensitive information. Without the most stringent security measures, AI dares to inadvertently leak client data, resulting in severe legal repercussions and the irrevocable loss of client trust. This scenario emphatically underscores the necessity for robust data protection protocols in all AI deployments.

Intellectual Property Issues

The misuse of AI inevitably leads to intricate intellectual property disputes. As AI systems possess the capability to generate legal documents and other intellectual outputs, the question of copyright ownership—whether it pertains to the AI, the law firm, or the original data providers—becomes a source of contention. Mismanagement in this domain can precipitate costly litigation, thrusting law firms into the task of navigating a labyrinth of AI law and copyright ownership issues. It is important that firms assertively delineate ownership rights in their AI deployment strategies to circumvent these potential pitfalls preemptively.

Ethical Breaches and Professional Misconduct

The reckless application of AI in legal practices invites ethical breaches and professional misconduct. Unmonitored AI systems presume to make decisions, potentially flouting the ethical standards decreed by legal authorities. The specter of AI bias looms large, capable of distorting decision-making in an unjust and discriminatory manner. Law firms must enforce stringent guidelines and conduct routine audits of their AI tools to uphold ethical compliance, thereby averting any semblance of professional misconduct that could mar their esteemed reputation and credibility.

Case Studies: Success and Cautionary Tales in AI Implementation

Successful AI Integrations in Law Firms

The legal industry has witnessed numerous triumphant AI integrations that have set the gold standard for technology adoption, unequivocally elevating efficiency and accuracy. Take, for example, a prominent U.S. law firm that fearlessly harnessed AI to automate document analysis for litigation cases, substantially reducing lawyers’ document review time while magnifying the precision of findings. Not only did this optimization revolutionize the workflow, but it also empowered attorneys to concentrate on more strategic tasks, thereby enhancing client service and firm profitability. In another case, an international law firm adopted AI-driven predictive analytics to forecast litigation outcomes. This tool provided unprecedented precision in advising clients on the feasibility of pursuing or settling cases, strengthening client trust and firm reputation. These examples highlight the transformative potential of AI when integrated into legal frameworks.

Conclusion

Integrating AI within the legal sector is an urgent reality that law firms cannot ignore. While the ascent of AI presents complex challenges, it also offers an unparalleled opportunity to shape AI law, copyright ownership, and AI human rights. To successfully implement AI in legal practices, due diligence on AI technologies, training programs for lawyers, and establishing clear guidelines and ethical standards are crucial. However, risks and moral considerations must be carefully addressed, such as confidentiality and data privacy concerns, intellectual property and copyright issues, and bias and discrimination in AI outputs. Failure to do so can lead to violations of client confidentiality and costly intellectual property disputes. By navigating these risks and pitfalls, law firms can harness the transformative power of AI while upholding legal standards and ensuring a fair and just legal system.

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Rockhopper Exploration Announces Receipt of Tranche 1 Funds for the Ombrina Mare Monetisation Transaction

By Harry Moran |

Rockhopper Exploration plc is pleased to provide the following update in relation to the monetisation of its Ombrina Mare Arbitration Award (the “Transaction”) announced on 20 December 2023.

Having satisfied all precedent conditions to the Transaction as announced on 17 June 2024, the Company confirms that the Tranche 1 payment has been received.

Rockhopper has received €19 million of the €45 million Tranche 1 payment. As previously disclosed, Rockhopper entered into a litigation funding agreement in 2017 under which all costs relating to the Arbitration from commencement to the rendering of the Award were paid on its behalf by a separate specialist arbitration funder (the “Original Arbitration Funder”). That agreement entitles the Original Arbitration Funder to a proportion of any proceeds from the Award or any monetisation of the Award. The balance of €26 million has gone to Original Arbitration Funder in order to fully discharge the Company of all of its liabilities under the agreement with the Original Arbitration Funder. Tranches 2 and 3 of the Award remain payable to Rockhopper upon a successful annulment outcome.

As previously disclosed, success fees of approximately €4 million are owed to Rockhopper’s legal representatives if Rockhopper win the claim, meaning liability is established and Italy is required to pay more than a nominal sum in damages (either by way of award or settlement in an amount equal to or more than €25 million).

Following receipt of the Tranche 1 payment, Rockhopper’s cash balance is approximately $27 million.

Please refer to the Company’s announcement on 20 December 2023 for further details on the Ombrina Mare Arbitration Award. Capitalised terms shall have the same meaning as in the 20 December 2023 announcement.

Samuel Moody, CEO, commented:

“We are delighted to have received the Tranche 1 payment under the Ombrina Mare monetisation agreement.  This cash gives us the strongest balance sheet we have had for a number of years, and we remain confident in the merits of our legal case as we await the decision of the Ad Hoc Panel on the annulment request from the Italian Republic.”

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