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News and analysis dedicated to the commercial litigation funding sector including regulatory issues, case developments, funding activities, and more.

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Legislation to ensure the enforceability of LFAs is progressing smoothly through Parliament

By John Freund |

The following is a contributed piece by Tom Webster, Chief Commercial Officer at Sentry Funding.

So far, the Litigation Funding Agreements (Enforceability) Bill has been passing through Parliament without a hitch.

The government is bringing the legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in PACCAR Inc & Ors v Competition Appeal Tribunal & Ors [2023] UKSC 28, which called into question the enforceability of LFAs.

The Bill was briefly introduced into the House of Lords on 19 March, and was debated at second reading on 15 April. During the debate, while some peers discussed the need for regulation of the litigation funding industry and for careful consideration of whether the retrospective nature of the legislation was justified, no peers opposed the Bill – and many welcomed it.

More recently, during scrutiny at grand committee on 29 April, the relatively small number of peers who attended the session broadly supported the Bill, and several spoke in favour of the need for its provisions to be retrospective.

In terms of the Bill’s drafting, the government proposed some small changes at committee stage, which were waved through by peers. The most significant was to address a potential problem with the original drafting where the LFA relates to the payment of costs rather than funding the provision of advocacy or litigation services.

The problem was that, in the original wording, it could be argued that the Bill only applied to the funding of costs that relate to court proceedings, but not those relating to arbitration, or settlements. This has now been resolved by new wording to make clear that an LFA may relate to the payment of costs following court, tribunal or arbitration proceedings, or as part of a settlement. An LFA may also relate to the provision of advocacy or litigation services.

Meanwhile another government amendment was aimed at avoiding problems for litigants-in-person, by ensuring that the definition of LFAs in the Bill includes agreements to fund the expenses of LiPs, for example where they need to pay for an expert’s report.

During grand committee, peers also expressed their approval of the broad terms of reference that have now been published by the Civil Justice Council for its review of litigation funding, which will include an examination of whether the sector should be regulated; and if so, how. Peers commended the speedy timescale that the CJC has set itself, aiming to produce an interim report by the summer, and a full report by summer 2025.

As the Litigation Funding Agreements (Enforceability) Bill continues its journey through Parliament and the CJC begins work on its review, there are clearly significant changes on the way for the litigation funding sector in the UK.

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Darrow Names Mathew Keshav Lewis As Chief Revenue Officer & US General Manager

By John Freund |

Darrow, the leading AI-powered justice intelligence platform, today announced the appointment of Mathew Keshav Lewis as its first Chief Revenue Officer and US General Manager. Lewis brings over 20 years of experience driving revenue and growth for high-profile legal and technology companies – including SaaS platform Dealpath, alternative investment platform Yieldstreet, and legal services pioneer Axiom Law – and will be responsible for helping Darrow scale as it continues an accelerated growth trajectory. 

“Mathew’s arrival at Darrow opens enterprise-level deals to all plaintiff law firms, previously accessible only to a select few,” said Evyatar Ben Artzi, CEO and Co-Founder of Darrow. “His expertise from YieldStreet and Axiom empowers our partners to leverage AI, driving unprecedented growth and innovation.” 

Lewis, who will be based in Darrow’s New York headquarters, joins Darrow after serving as the first Chief Revenue Officer of Dealpath, a real estate deal management platform. He also previously held the role of Chief Revenue Officer and GM, Investments at Yieldstreet, where he drove record revenue and growth for the investment platform. 

“I’m delighted to join a team of tremendously talented individuals at Darrow, who have already disrupted the legal technology space and forged the path ahead,” said Mathew Keshav Lewis, Chief Revenue Officer & US General Manager of Darrow. “I am inspired by Darrow’s progress to date, and I look forward to working alongside Darrow’s growing team to expand the company’s footprint.”

This announcement comes at a period of rapid growth for the company, which completed its $35 million Series B funding round last year. Darrow currently works on active litigation valued over $10 billion across legal domains such as privacy, consumer protection, and antitrust. 

About Darrow: Founded in 2020, Darrow is a LegalTech company on a mission to fuel law firm growth and deliver justice for victims of class and mass action lawsuits. Darrow’s AI-powered justice intelligence platform leverages generative AI and world-class legal experts and technologists to uncover egregious violations across legal domains spanning privacy and data breach, consumer protection, securities and financial fraud, environment, and employment. Darrow is based out of New York City and Tel Aviv. For more information, visit: darrow.ai

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Omni Bridgeway Releases Investment Portfolio Report for 3Q24

By John Freund |

Omni Bridgeway Limited (ASX: OBL) (Omni Bridgeway, OBL, Group) announces the key investment performance metrics for the three months ended 31 March 2024 (3Q24, Quarter) and for the financial year to date (FYTD).

Summary

  • Investment income of A$296 million FYTD; A$56 million provisionally attributable to OBL.
  • 23 full completions, 17 partial completions FYTD, with an overall multiple on invested capital (MOIC) of2.0x.
  • A$333 million of new commitments FYTD with a corresponding A$447 million in new fair value, on track to achieve our A$625 million target.
  • Pricing remains at improved levels, up 32% for the FYTD compared to FY23.
  • Strong pipeline, with agreed term sheets outstanding for an estimated A$212 million in new commitments.
  • OBL cash and receivables of A$101 million plus A$60 million in undrawn debt at 31 March 2024.
  • A$4.4 billion of possible estimated portfolio value (EPV) in completions over the next 12 months. 
  • Further simplification and enhancement of our disclosures as announced at the Annual General Meeting, comprising non-IFRS OBL-only financials and non-IFRS fair value on a portfolio basis and OBL-only basis.
  • These new disclosures and metrics, as well as a valuation framework for our existing book and platform, were presented at our investor day on 27 March 2024.

Refer to https://omnibridgeway.com/investors/investor-day.

Key metrics and developments for the Quarter

Income and completions

  • Investment income of A$296 million generated from A$193 million income recognised and A$103 million income yet to be recognised (IYTBR), with A$56 million provisionally attributable to OBL FYTD (excluding management and performance fees). 
  • During the Quarter, 11 full completions and 11 partial completions (excluding IYTBR), resulting in 23 full completions and 17 partial completions (excluding IYTBR) FYTD, and one secondary market transaction, with a FYTD overall MOIC of 2.0x.

New commitments

  • Our stated targets for FY24 include A$625 million in new commitments or equivalent value, prioritising value over volume to reflect potential for improved pricing of new commitments.
  • FYTD new commitments of A$333 million at 31 March 2024 (from matters that were newly funded, conditionally approved or had increased investment opportunities). 
  • The fair value associated with these commitments is $447million, 72% of the full year value generation target.
  • Pipeline of 37 agreed exclusive term sheets, representing approximately A$212 million in investment opportunities, which if converted into funded investments is a further 34% of our FY24 commitments target.  
  • In addition to the regular new commitments to investments in the existing funds FYTD, an additional A$11.5 million of external co-fundings were secured for these investments to manage fund concentration limits. OBL will be entitled to management fees as well as performance fees on such external co-funding.

Portfolio review

  • A$4.4 billion of EPV is assessed to possibly complete in the 12 months following the end of the quarter. This 12 month rolling EPV is based on investments which are subject to various stages of (anticipated) settlement discussions or for which an award or a judgment is expected. All or only part of these may actually complete during the 12 month period.
  • We anticipate replacing these final EPV metrics with fair value metrics by the end of this financial year.

Cash reporting and financial position

  • At 31 March 2024, the Group held A$100.7 million in cash and receivables (A$62.8 million in OBL balance sheet cash, A$2.0 million in OBL balance sheet receivables and A$35.9 million of OBL share of cash and receivables within Funds) plus access to a further A$60 million in debt.
  • In aggregate, we have approximately A$161 million to meet operational needs, interest payments, and fund investments before recognising any investment completions, secondary market sales, management and transaction fees, and associated fund performance fees.
  • Post Quarter-end and as per the date of this report, in anticipation of the expiry of the availability period of the debt facility, OBL has drawn down the A$60 million in undrawn debt and received the funds.

Investor day

The investor day presentation and Q&A which took place on 27 March 2024 can be viewed at https://omnibridgeway.com/investors/investor-day.

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Carpentum Capital Launches Aurigon Litigation Risk Consulting (LRC)

By John Freund |

The team around former Carpentum Capital has launched AURIGON LITIGATION RISK CONSULTING (LRC), a litigation funding intermediary based in Switzerland with a special focus on Latin America. 

Founder and Managing Director Dr. Detlef A. Huber comments: ”AURIGON LRC is combining two worlds, litigation finance and insurance. Both areas are increasingly overlapping. Insurers offer ever more litigation risk transfer products and funders recur to insurance to hedge their risks. Hence complexity and advisory requirements are increasing, especially in still developing markets like Latin America. With our team of lawyers and former re/insurance executives trained in Latin America, the US, UK and Europe we are perfectly suited to advice our clients in any stage of the funding process or in related insurance matters. Our goal is to become the preferred partner for litigation and arbitration funding projects out of Latin American jurisdictions and I am looking forward to this new adventure.”

ABOUT AURIGON

AURIGON Advisors Ltd. is operating as re/insurance consultancy since 2011 with a special focus on dispute resolution and auditing. With AURIGON LRC an intermediary for litigation funding has been launched servicing our clients out of Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Switzerland in Spanish, English, Portuguese and German. With our experience setting up the first Swiss litigation fund dedicated to Latin America (founded 2018), and in the insurance advisory area (since 2011), we are bringing together knowledge of processes and mindsets of the funding and the insurance world. 

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Key Highlights from the Inaugural LF Dealmakers European Edition

By John Freund |

Last week, the LFJ team attended the inaugural LF Dealmakers European Edition, held across two days at the Royal Lancaster in London. Building on the longstanding success of Dealmakers’ New York event, the first edition of the European conference brought together an impressive selection of leaders from across the industry.

Spread across two days, LF Dealmakers featured an agenda packed with insightful conversations between some of the most prominent thought leaders in the European litigation finance market. An array of panel discussions covered everything from the looming potential of regulation to the increasing corporate adoption of third-party funding, with these sessions bolstered by a keynote interview between two of the key figures in the Post Office Horizon litigation.

A long road to justice for the postmasters

In a conference that managed to fill every single panel discussion with speakers engaged in some of the largest and most influential funded disputes taking place in Europe, the standout session of the two days provided unparalleled insight into one of the most famous cases of recent years. The keynote interview on ‘The Future of Litigation Funding in the Wake of the Post Office Horizon Scandal’ saw James Hartley, Partner and National Head of Dispute Resolution Freeths, and Neil Purslow, Founder & CIO, Therium, offer up a behind-the-scenes tale of the sub-postmasters campaign for justice.

Going back to their first involvement with the case, James Hartley reminded attendees that whilst those looking at the case post-judgement “might think it was a slam dunk”, this was not the viewpoint of the lawyers and funders who first agreed to lead the fight against the Post Office. As Hartley described it, this was a situation where you had “a government owned entity who would fight to the end”, with a multitude of potential issues facing the claimants, including the existence of criminal convictions, the limited amounts of documented evidence, and the fact that the Post Office was the party that had ninety percent of the data, documents, and evidence.

Hartley also offered his own perspective on the legal strategy adopted by the Post Office and its lawyers, noting that at every stage of the litigation, “every single issue was fought hard.” He went on to explain that whilst he was “not critical” of the defendant’s strategy in principle, there remains the underlying issue that “the arguments they made were not consistent with the evidence we were seeing.” Hartley used this particular point to illuminate the issues around defendant strategies in the face of meritorious litigation that is being funded. He summarised the core issue by saying: “There is nothing wrong with fighting hard, but it’s got to be within the rules, and in a way that helps the court get to a just outcome.”

Offering praise for the support provided by Purslow and the team at Therium to finance the case, Hartley stated plainly that “without Therium’s funding it would not have gone anywhere, it would not have even got off the ground.” Both Purslow and Hartley also used the case to highlight problems around the lack of recoverability for funding costs and how that incentivises defendants such as the Post Office to prolong litigation and inflate legal costs. Hartley said that he would welcome a change to rules that would allow such recoverability, arguing that in this case “it would have neutralised the Post Office’s strategy to just keep driving up costs on the claimants side.”

What problem is regulation solving?

It was unsurprising to find that questions around the future of regulation for the litigation funding industry were a regular occurrence at LF Dealmakers, with the event taking place only a few days on from the House of Lords’ debate on the Litigation Funding Agreements (Enforceability) bill. From the opening panel to conversations held in networking breaks between sessions, speakers and attendees alike discussed the mounting pressure from government and corporate opponents of third-party funding.

The view from the majority of executives at the event seemed to revolve around one question, which was succinctly put by Ben Moss from Orchard Global: “What are the specific issues that require regulation, and what is the evidence to support those issues?”

This question became somewhat of a rallying cry throughout the conference, with suggestions of increased scrutiny and oversight being turned back on the industry’s critics who make claims of impropriety without citing evidence to back up these claims. Whilst several speakers referenced the recent LFJ poll that found a broad majority are open to the potential for new regulation, Ben Knowles from Clyde & Co described a lot of the discourse around the issue as “a fairly partisan debate.”

Among the few speakers in attendance who offered a contrasting view on regulation, Linklaters’ Harriet Ellis argued that “regulation done right would be good for the industry.” However, even Ellis acknowledged that any rules would have to be carefully crafted to provide a framework that would work across the wide variety of funded disputes, saying that a “one size fits all approach does raise issues.”

Regarding the government’s own approach to the issue through the draft legislation making its way through parliament, all of the executives in attendance praised lawmakers’ attempts to find a solution quickly. Alongside these government-led efforts, there was also a feeling among legal industry leaders that funders and law firms have to be part of the solution by promoting more education and understanding about how litigation finance works in practice. Richard Healey from Gately emphasised the need for firms to engage in “hearts and minds work” to change wider perceptions, whilst Harbour’s Maurice MacSweeney emphasised the need to “create the environment where law firms and funders can flourish.”

Innovation through collaboration

Outside of the narrow debate around legislation and regulation, much of the conference was focused on the speed at which litigation finance continues to evolve and create new solutions to meet complex demands from the legal industry. This was perhaps best represented in the way speakers from a variety of organisations discussed the need for a collaborative approach, with executives from funders, insurers, law firms, investors and brokers, all discussing how the industry can foster best working practices.

The interplay between the insurance and funding industry was one area that offered plenty of opportunity for insightful discussions around innovation. Andrew Mutter from CAC Speciality noted that even though “insurers are not known for being the fastest and moving the most nimbly,” within the world of litigation risk “the insurance markets are surprisingly innovative.” This idea of an agile and responsive insurance market was backed up by the variety of off the shelf and bespoke products that were discussed during the conference, from the staples of After-The-Event and Judgement Preservation Insurance to niche solutions like Arbitration Default Insurance.

Delving into the increasingly bespoke and tailored approach that insurers can take when working with funders and law firms, Jamie Molloy from Ignite Speciality Risk, described how there are now “very few limits on what can be done by litigation insurers to de-risk.” Whilst there is sometimes a perception that insurers are competing with funders and lawyers for client business, Tamar Katamade at Mosaic Insurance offered the view that it is “more like collaboration and synergy” where all these parties can work together “to help the claimant and improve their cost of capital and reduce duration risk.”

Class action fervour across Europe

Throughout both days of the LF Dealmakers conference, the volume and variety of class actions taking place across the European continent was another hot topic. However, in contrast to an event focused on the American litigation finance market, the common theme at last week’s forum was the wideranging differences between large group claims across individual European jurisdictions. In one of the most insightful panels, the audience were treated to an array of perspectives from thought leaders practicing across the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands.

The example of Spanish class actions provided an incredibly useful view into the nuances of European claims, as a country that is still in the process of implementing legislation to comply with the EU’s collective actions directive, but has already evolved routes for these types of actions over the last decade. Paul Hitchings of Hitchings & Co. described how the initiative to innovate has come “more from the private sector than the legislature”, with domestic law firms having become “experienced with running massive numbers of parallel claims” as an inefficient, yet workable solution. Hitchings contrasted Spain’s situation with its neighbouring jurisdiction of Portugal, which he argued has been comparatively forward thinking due to the country’s popular action law.

Speaking to the Dutch class actions environment, Quirijn Bongaerts from Birkway, argued that the “biggest game changer” in the country was the introduction of a real class actions regime in 2020. Bongaerts explained that the introduction of this system allowed for “one procedure that fits all types of claims”, which allows not only claims for damages, “but also works for more idealistic cases such as environmental cases and ESG cases.”

LFJ would like to extend our thanks to the entire Dealmakers team for hosting such an engaging and insightful event, which not only offered attendees a view into the latest developments in litigation finance, but also created a plethora of networking opportunities throughout both days. LFJ has no doubt that after the success of the inaugural LF Dealmakers European edition, a return to London in 2025 will cement the conference as a must-attend feature in the litigation funding events calendar.

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The CJC’s Review of Litigation Funding Will Have Far-Reaching Effects

By John Freund |

The following is a contributed piece by Tom Webster, Chief Commercial Officer at Sentry Funding.

Reform is on its way for the UK’s litigation funding sector, with the Civil Justice Council firing the starting gun on its review of litigation funding on 23 April.

The advisory body set out the terms of reference for its review, commissioned by lord chancellor Alex Chalk, and revealed the members of its core working group.

The review is working to an ambitious timetable with the aim of publishing an interim report by this summer, and a full report by summer 2025. It will be based on the CJC’s function of making civil justice ‘more accessible, fair and efficient’.

The CJC said it will set out ‘clear recommendations’ for reform in some areas. This includes consideration of a number of issues that could prove very significant for funders and clients. These include:

  • Whether the sector should be regulated, and if so, how and by whom;
  • Whether funders’ returns should be subject to a cap; and if so, to what extent;
  • The relationship between third party funding and litigation costs;
  • The court’s role in controlling the conduct of funded litigation, including the protection of claimants and ‘the interaction between pre-action and post-commencement funding of disputes’;
  • Duties relating to the provision of funding, including potential conflicts of interest between funders, lawyers and clients;
  • Whether funding encourages ‘specific litigation behaviour’ such as collective action.

The review’s core working group will be co-chaired by CJC members Mr Justice Simon Picken, a Commercial Court judge, and barrister Dr John Sorabji. The four other members are:

  • High Court judge Mrs Justice Sara Cockerill, who was judge in charge of the commercial court 2020 – 2022, and who is currently involved in a project on third party funding for the European Law Institute;
  • Academic and former City lawyer Prof Chris Hodges, chair of independent body the Regulatory Horizons Council which was set up to ensure that UK regulation keeps pace with innovation;
  • Lucy Castledine, Director of Consumer Investments at the Financial Conduct Authority; and
  • Nick Bacon KC, a prominent barrister and funding expert who acts for both claimants and defendants

The CJC had said that it may also bring in a consumer representative, as well as a solicitor experienced in group litigation.

In a sign that the review seeks to be informed by a wide range of views, the CJC has also extended an invitation for experts to join a broader consultation group, which will directly inform the work of the review and provide a larger forum for expert discussion. Meanwhile the advisory body has said there will also be further chance ‘for all to engage formally with this review’ later this year.

Given the broad remit of the review and significant impact that its recommendations may have on the litigation funding industry, litigation funders, lawyers and clients would be well advised to make the most of these opportunities to contribute to the review.

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Balancing Risk and Reward in Litigation Finance: Lessons from High-Profile Case

By John Freund |

The following is a contributed piece by Jeff Manley, Chief Operating Officer of Armadillo Litigation Funding.

The allure of substantial returns from mass tort litigation has historically tempted law firms and their third-party financiers to commit resources to speculative cases. While investing strongly in speculative torts certainly has its time and place, prevailing trends highlight the necessity of certain risk management practices. The unpredictable outcomes of high-profile cases, like the Camp LeJeune water contamination lawsuits, accentuate the imperative for a discerning approach to case selection and the strategic diversification of portfolios.

Balancing Opportunity and Prudence in Speculative Torts

Early-stage speculative torts like the Zantac litigation represent a blend of potential and caution. (In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, 2021). Initially, Zantac cases drew significant attention from law firms with projections of substantial compensation figures. However, the legal complexities and subsequent valuation adjustments highlighted the disparity between initial projections and actual compensation figures realized, reinforcing the need for meticulous risk assessment in speculative torts. While similar cases have captivated law firms and financiers with their substantial projections, they also underscore the importance of an exhaustive risk assessment—demonstrating how initial excitement must be tempered with diligent legal analysis and realistic valuation adjustments.

Navigating the Complex Terrain of Camp Lejeune Litigation

The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits represent promising ventures for financiers and mass tort firms to affirm their moral duty by advocating for those who served our country. However, these cases also carry lessons on the pitfalls of overzealous investment without careful scrutiny. The drawn-out nature of the litigation serves as a reminder that while the pursuit of justice is noble, it must be balanced with sound risk management to ensure long term firm stability.

Endurance in Talc Litigation: A Testament to Long-Term Vision

The protracted legal battles surrounding talcum powder’s health risks underscore the necessity for long-term strategic planning in mass tort litigation. Firms must factor in the operational demands and the financial foresight to manage compounded interest on borrowed capital over extensive periods. Simultaneously, it’s critical to sustain investment in new torts, ensuring a balanced portfolio that accommodates both ongoing cases and emerging opportunities. This balanced approach underpins the stamina needed to endure through a decade-long commitment, as exemplified by the talc litigation.

Understanding Returns in the 3M Earplug Litigation

The 3M earplug litigation concluded within a standard timeframe, yet the distribution of settlements spans several years, offering more modest financial returns than many anticipated. This outcome serves as a pragmatic reminder of the nuanced nature of mass tort settlements, where significant payouts are not always immediate or as substantial as predicted. Nonetheless, this reinforces the value of prudent risk management strategies that account for longer payout terms, ensuring a stable financial forecast and the firm’s resilience in the face of lower-than-expected returns.

Strategic Portfolio Diversification

Given these varied experiences, it is imperative that law firm owners and financial backers craft a robust case portfolio strategy. By balancing the mix of cases from speculative to those with a more established settlement trajectory, firms can better manage risk and ensure operational stability. Strategic diversification is not just wise—it’s a vital tactic to maintain resilience in the evolving landscape of the mass tort industry.

The Value of Expert Financial Partnerships

Choosing a reputable and experienced litigation finance partner is essential for law firms aiming to effectively balance their case portfolios. A seasoned funding partner provides invaluable guidance in evaluating potential cases, assessing financial risks, and optimizing investment strategies. Their expertise in navigating the nuanced terrain of litigation finance is a critical asset.

Adopting a balanced portfolio strategy—carefully curated to include a variety of torts at different development stages—provides a more stable foundation than pursuing an “all-in” strategy on a single high-potential tort. This method not only reduces dependency on the success of any single case but also positions the firm more favorably in the eyes of prudent lenders.

Recent high-profile cases in the mass tort arena, like those mentioned above, serve as potent reminders of the inherent uncertainties in litigation finance. For law firm owners and their financial backers, the path forward demands a nuanced view of risk, underscored by strategic portfolio diversification and the cultivation of partnerships with experienced financing entities. By adopting these principles, stakeholders can safeguard their investments against the capricious nature of mass litigation, securing a resilient and prosperous future in the challenging yet rewarding domain of legal finance.

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Westfleet Advisors Announces James Batson as New Chief Operating Officer

By John Freund |

Westfleet Advisors, the premier U.S. litigation finance advisory firm, is delighted to announce the appointment of James “Jim” Batson as its new Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Batson, widely recognized as a leader in litigation finance, brings an extensive portfolio of expertise, including nearly a decade at Omni Bridgeway, most recently as its US Co-CIO, and a former partnership at Liddle & Robinson.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jim to Westfleet,” said Charles Agee, Founder and CEO of Westfleet Advisors. “His impressive track record and deep industry knowledge align perfectly with our strategic goals. Jim’s leadership is set to drive significant growth, reinforcing Westfleet’s role as an essential advisor in the increasingly complex litigation finance market.”

“At a time when the litigation finance industry has reached a critical juncture, requiring sophisticated understanding to navigate its complexities, I am excited to join Westfleet Advisors,” said Mr. Batson. “The industry’s growth and the diversification of funding options have made it imperative for clients to seek knowledgeable and experienced advisors. Westfleet’s long-established expertise in advising on deal structures, pricing, and market trends positions us uniquely to guide our clients to the most advantageous outcomes. I look forward to advancing our mission to deliver unmatched advisory services in this dynamic sector.”

Mr. Batson’s prior roles have honed his skills in developing growth strategies and enhancing client services, with a strong focus on operational excellence and strategic advisory for complex legal disputes.

“Jim’s deep understanding of the industry’s needs and his proven leadership abilities will be instrumental as we expand our advisory services and deepen our engagement with the market,” added Agee.

About Westfleet Advisors

Westfleet Advisors is the leading litigation finance advisor in the United States. Founded in 2013, the company has been instrumental in promoting transparency and efficiency in the litigation finance market. With a team of seasoned experts active since 1998, Westfleet provides clients and their attorneys with essential resources and insights necessary for navigating successful litigation financing.

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Geradin Partners Opens Paris Office with the Hire of Partner Marc Barennes

By John Freund |

After opening offices in Brussels in 2015, London in 2021, and Amsterdam in 2023, Geradin Partners continues its European expansion with the launch today of its Paris office with the hires of former EU official and competition litigator Marc Barennes and his team. 

Founding partner, Damien Geradin comments: 

“We’re delighted that Marc accepted our offer to open our Paris office. France is a key jurisdiction in Europe, and Marc and his team will help us achieve three goals. First, it allows us to bolster our competition and digital regulation practice. The Paris office will allow us to better serve our clients in France, in particular those in need of strategic advice regarding the DMA (Digital Markets Act), DSA (Digital Services Act) and EU competition law. It will also assist our international clients in interactions with the French competition authority. Second, given his unique experience within the competition authorities and courts, Marc adds further strength to our ability to pursue high-stakes appeals and interventions in relation to competition authority decisions at the French and European levels. Third, Geradin Partners has brought major private actions in the courts, in particular against large tech firms in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, while Marc has been a frontrunner in bringing collective actions in France. With Marc onboard, we will offer a choice between bringing a competition and DMA actions before the Dutch, English or French Courts, depending on which is best for each client”. 

Marc Barennes is a competition litigator with 20-plus years of experience. With over 15 years at the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union, he brings unique expertise in competition law. During his time with European institutions, he was directly involved in more than 350 cases, including more than 70 of the most complex and high-profile European cartel, abuse of dominance, merger and State aid cases. Before joining Geradin Partners, Marc also gained experience over the past five years of damages actions through his role as Executive Director of a leading claim aggregator, and co-founding partner of the first French claimant firm specialized in class actions. Marc has also been a Lecturer at French School of Law, Sciences Po Paris since 2014 and has been a non-governmental advisor to the European Commission and/or the French and Luxembourgish competition authorities for the International Competition Network (ICN) since 2012. He is a member of both the Paris and New York bars. 

Marc Barennes added: 

“I’m honoured and delighted to join Geradin Partners and launch its Paris office. In only a few years, Geradin Partners has become the go-to European firm for all complex competition and digital regulation cases. It now comprises an exceptional team of 20 competition and digital regulation specialists, including five senior former competition agency officials, who work seamlessly on French, EU and UK high-stake cases. The many cases it has already successfully brought against large tech firms before the French, English and EU competition authorities and courts as well as the multi-billion damages claims it has filed against them in the Netherlands and England are a testament to its expertise and its innovative approach to complex competition issues, especially in the digital space. I look forward to assisting French companies both in benefiting from those damage actions and in their most complex cases before the French and EU competition authorities and courts. Our ambition is to expand the Paris office rapidly: applications at the partner and senior associate levels are welcome”. 

About Geradin Partners

Geradin Partners was founded by competition and digital regulation expert Damien Geradin, who has spent the past 25 years working as an attorney, while combining this with an academic career. With a team of seven partners and a total of 20 competition experts based in Paris, Brussels, London and Amsterdam, Geradin Partners is the first European boutique to offer seamless competition law and digital regulation services in major cases throughout the EU and the UK. It is recognized by its clients and peers for its commitment to excellence, as well as for its innovative and strategic approach. 

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SHIELDPAY LAUNCHES GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE LITIGATION SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION FOR LEGAL SECTOR

By John Freund |

In the face of increasing demand for better strategies for litigation compensation payments, Shieldpay, the payments partner for the legal sector, has created the Blueprint to Distribution’a step-by-step guide that shares best practice on how to scale efficiently and distribute best-in-class payments for claimants. 

The huge growth in litigation in recent years (total value of UK class actions alone rose from £76.6 billion in 2021 to £102.7 billion in 2022) means the legal sector must adopt strategies that will enable it to scale efficiently with the growing demand. In 2019, the average litigation revenue for a firm in the UK Litigation 50 was £82.4m. That figure had reached £110m by 2023 and is widely predicted to follow this upward trajectory.

Settlement payouts can be a complex and lengthy process without the right support and guidance. The process of distributing funds can often be overlooked until the settlement is finalised, leading to sudden complications, risk concerns and a huge administrative burden on a tight deadline.

Litigation cases are by no means finished once a settlement has been agreed. Depending on the size and complexity of the case, the distribution process can take many months, if not years. Most claimants will want the compensation due to them as quickly as possible, so firms need to plan for a successful and seamless distribution of funds well ahead of time to avoid frustration and uncertainty for their clients.

To help lawyers navigate litigation payments and adopt strategies that will reassure and build trust amongst claimants, Shieldpay’s ‘Blueprint to Distribution’ guide goes through the critical steps teams need to take throughout the case to ensure claimants receive their funds quickly and efficiently. The key to success is planning the distribution process as early as the budget-setting phase, where the payout is considered as part of the case management process to optimise for success. This process also includes developing a robust communications strategy, collecting and cleansing claimant data, and choosing the right payments partner to handle the settlement distribution.

In its guidance for legal practitioners on delivering a successful payout, ‘Blueprint to Distribution’ highlights the need for payment considerations to be aligned and collaborative throughout the lifecycle of a case, not left to be worked out at the end. Working with the right partner enables firms to understand how to design and deliver an optimal payout, taking into account the potential long lead times involved from the initial scoping of a case to the actual payout, with refinements and changes likely to occur to the requirements as a case unfolds. 

Claire Van der Zant, Shieldpay’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, and author of the guide, said: “Last year, the conversation amongst the litigation community was understandably focused on how to get cases to trial. Delays to proceedings arising from evolving case management requirements, including the PACCAR decision, caused delays and frustration amongst those actively litigating cases and striving for final judgements. 

“Fundamentally, legal professionals want to deliver justice and good outcomes for claimants. To do that, we need to think bigger than just a blueprint to trial, and consider a ‘Blueprint to Distribution’, because once a final judgement has been delivered, it doesn’t end there. Delivering a successful distribution requires advance planning and consideration to be effective and efficient. This step-by-step guide aims to help law firms, administrators and litigation funders deliver the best payment experience and outcome for claimants.” 

For the full ‘Blueprint to Distribution’ guide visit www.shieldpay.com/blueprint-to-distribution

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An LFJ Conversation with Jonathan Stroud

By John Freund |

Jonathan Stroud is General Counsel at Unified Patents, where he
manages a growing team of talented, diverse attorneys and oversees a
docket of administrative challenges, appeals, licensing, pooling, and
district court work in addition to trademark, copyright,
administrative, amicus, policy, marketing, and corporate matters.


Prior to Unified, he was a patent litigator, and prior to that, he was
a patent examiner at the USPTO. He earned his J.D. with honors from
the American University Washington College of Law; his B.S. in
Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University; and his M.A. in Print
Journalism from the University of Southern California. He enjoys
teaching, writing, and speaking on patent and administrative law and
litigation finance.

Unified is a 350+ international membership organization that seeks to
improve patent quality and deter unsubstantiated or invalid patent
assertions in defined technology sectors (Zones) through its
activities. Its actions are focused broadly in Zones with substantial
assertions by Standards Essential Patents (SEP) holders and/or
Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs). These actions may include analytics,
prior art, invalidity contests, patentability analysis, administrative
patent review (IPR/reexam), amicus briefs, economic surveys, and
essentiality studies. Unified works independently of its members to
achieve its deterrence goals. Small members join for free while larger
ones pay modest annual fees.

Below is our LFJ Conversation with Jonathan Stroud:

1)   Unified Patents describes itself as an “anti-troll.” You claim to
be the only entity that deters abusive NPEs and never pays. Can you
elaborate?

In the patent risk management space, Unified is the only entity that
works to deter and disincentivize NPE assertions.  Because of the
expense and economics of patent litigation, parties often settle for
money damages less than the cost of defending themselves, paying the
entity, often for non-meritorious assertions. This allows them to
remain profitable, thus fueling and incentivizing future assertions,
regardless of merit. Unified is the only solution designed to counter
that dynamic.  That is why Unified never pays NPEs. This ensures that
Unified never incentivizes further NPE activity. By focusing on
deterrence, Unified never acts as a middleman, facilitating licensing
deals between NPEs and implementors.

2) How does Unified Patents work with litigation funders, specifically?

As many NPE suits are funded or controlled by third parties, we are
often called to consult on and seek to understand litigation funding
and the economics of assertion.  Among other things, we provide filing
data, funding information, reports, and other work related to funding
and also run a consulting business related to negotiations and aspects
of dealmaking affected by litigation funding.  For example, we have
helped identify that at least 30% of all U.S. patent litigation filed
in recent years has been funded (up through 2020), through one
mechanism or another.  We will continue to work to understand the
marketplace and transactions, and endeavor to provide the best insight
into the marketplace that our data affords.

3)  With Judge Connolly’s recent ruling, disclosure has become a hot
topic in the US. How do you see this ruling impacting IP litigation
going forward?

Well before Chief Judge Connolly’s actions, litigation funding
disclosure has been a topic of discussion at the judicial conference,
among other judges, and amongst those implementing and revising the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, not to mention Congress and the SEC.
The Judicial Conference has been called to revise the disclosure rules
for over a decade.  Similar disclosure orders or rules applied in New
Jersey, California, Michigan, and another dozen district courts
nationwide, in addition to numerous rulings on admissibility and
relevance in Federal and state courts stretching back decades.  Chief
Judge Connolly’s order has attracted outsized interest in the patent
community in particular.  It quickly exposed some of the 500 or so
cases filed annually by IP Edge as funded, as well as the high number
of patent plaintiffs in Delaware.   Calls for disclosure did not begin
with Judge Connolly; has been a continuing ongoing debate stretching
back decades. Insurance disclosures go back to the early 70s, and
other types of loans or financial instruments are already subject to
certain disclosure rules, in court, governmentally, or by regulators.
Moving forward, the increasing prevalence of litigation funding and
the rising awareness among the judiciary and bar will mean fitful
district-specific under- and over-disclosure until a national rule is
put in place through the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  It’s
inevitable.  It’s just a matter of time.

4) Insurers seem to be shying away from judgment preservation
insurance at the moment–is this a trend you see continuing, and how
might this impact IP litigation?

Insurance markets are often dominated by sales-side pressures and so
are susceptible to irrational exuberance and overpromotion of certain
policies.  Couple that with competition amongst brokers to offer
attractive terms for a “new” product, and you have pressures that have
driven down offered rates, a trend that seems to be reversing itself
now. To be sure, judgment preservation has existed in some form for
many years through other funding and insurance sources, and you’ve
always been able to buy and sell claims and judgments on appeal.

The increased emphasis on judgment preservation insurance seems driven
by a handful of brokers successfully selling rather large policies,
coupled with a glut of interest; my understanding is that some of the
recent (and predictable) remand on appeal have dampened
the enthusiasm of that market a tad, but that really just means rates
returning to reasonable levels (or at least growing resistant to
sales-side pressure).  The small JPI market should stabilize,
affording successful plaintiffs the option, and in turn extending
appellate timelines and recovery timelines, especially in
higher-profile damages award cases.  It will generally prevent
settlements below the insured threshold. It should also provide some
incentive to sue and to chase large damages awards in the first place,
if it becomes clear that JPI will be available after a judgment,
allowing for less well-capitalized plaintiffs to recover earlier and
avoid binary all-or-nothing outcomes.

Additionally, the Federal Circuit and other appellate courts will
eventually grapple with the “disclosure gap.” That is, the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure insurance policies since the 1970s must be
disclosed at the trial level, but not yet at the appellate level; but
the same concerns that animated the 1970 amendments to the FRCP now
apply on appeal, with the rise of JPI.  Circuits will have to
grapple with adopting disclosure rules for insurance policies
contingent upon appeal.

5)   What trends are you seeing in the IP space that is relevant to
litigation funders, and how does Unified Patents’ service fit into
those trends?

Early funding stories were dominated by larger cases and portfolios,
but we are now seeing a trend of much smaller cases being funded, and,
in the case of both IP Edge and AiPi Solutions, with certain patent
aggregators getting creative and funding entire suites of very small
nuisance cases.  We see funding now at all levels, from the IP Edges
of the world to the Burfords, and there is a trend toward investing in
pharmaceutical ANDA litigation and ITC cases.  Both should continue,
which should extend cases, increase the duration and expense of
litigation, and should drive more licensing.  Unified will continue to
seek to deter baseless assertions and will continue to identify,
discuss, and detail the structures, funding arrangements, and suits
related to litigation funding, and continue to show how much funding
is now dominating U.S. patent litigation, to the extent it is knowable.

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An LFJ Conversation with Nick Wood

By John Freund |

Nick Wood has been involved in structuring and financing numerous litigation strategies over many years. After a long career in wealth management and many allied business ventures, he established Audley Capital in late 2022. Audley has grown rapidly to be a leading light in the litigation funding industry, bringing together investment capital, legal excellence and case origination.

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