Trending Now

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.

About the author

Commercial

View All

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Lawyers for Civil Justice Submits Letter to House Subcommittee in Support of Funding Disclosure Rules 

By Harry Moran |

As LFJ reported last month, a committee hearing in the US House of Representatives brought a renewed focus on the issue of disclosure and transparency in the use of third-party litigation funding. Since that hearing, the debate has continued to evolve, with advocacy groups lending their voices to the discussion, as funders and law firms try to influence the direction the legislature will take.

In a letter submitted to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, Lawyers for Civil Justice (LCJ) responded to the Subcommittee’s hearing on third-party litigation finance. The letter, signed by LCJ’s president, Molly H. Craig, laid out its argument that “there are numerous compelling reasons why uniform rules requiring disclosure will benefit federal courts and parties while improving the transparency and fairness of the federal court system.”

LCJ listed the following reasons why it supported the introduction of new rules governing the disclosure of litigation funding:

  • Reduce the risk of conflicts of interest
  • Ensure that decision makers participate in court proceedings
  • Identify the actual interests of parties
  • Evaluate discovery requests and allocate costs and sanctions in accordance with the FRCP
  • Protect the interests of class action members
  • Ensure counsel represent their client’s interests, not third-party funders
  • Inform trial rulings on evidence admissibility and acceptable lines of questioning

LCJ also highlighted four proposals that it has previously put forward and continues to advocate for, which would introduce specific amendments to existing rules in order to “support or require such appropriate TPLF disclosures”. These include amendments to Rule 26 disclosure, Rule 16 disclosure, Rule 26.1 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Disclosure, and FRCP Rule 7.1 disclosure.LCJ describes itself as “a national coalition of corporations, law firms, and defense trial-lawyer organizations that promotes excellence and fairness in the civil justice system and supports measures to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of civil cases.”

More information about LCJ can be found on its website.