So you have a strong case but are concerned about the costs. Who can you turn to and how do you know if litigation funding firms are trustworthy? The problem with the internet is that websites with bells and whistles can look very professional and very appealing. If they have a website like that, they must be good. Unfortunately, not.
Although the British justice system is renowned around the world, no case is ever watertight. A litigation funding firm will finance your court case and absorb the risk – for a percentage or a share of the claim if successful, of course. And if unsuccessful, they lose out but you don’t. A much safer bet than the dangerous game of DIY litigation.
Is there a professional body?
Lord Justice Jackson, Rupert to his friends, was tasked with overhauling the costs of civil litigation by the Master of the Rolls. Published in 2010, his review came down in favour of litigation funding and recommended that the industry self-regulates.
The Association of Litigation Funders of England and Wales (ALF), an independent body, was set-up by the leading firms in November 2011. It currently has seven members.
And it must abide by a code of conduct prepared for the Ministry of Justice by an esteemed team of industry experts. Let’s face it, no one wants to cross the scary bods at the MoJ.
Choose a firm that is a member of the ALF and you will be in good hands.
Will litigation funding firms take control of the case?
No. The roles of funders and lawyers must be kept separate. Funders cannot control the case or get involved with negotiating settlements.
But what they can, and most definitely will, do is review your case. Their experienced teams will judge the strength of your case and calculate the odds of success. If they won’t touch it with a barge pole, you may want to reconsider bringing it in the first place.
Jackson decided that providing litigation funding does not exercise control. In fact, there is a growing consensus that lawyers are ethically obliged to discuss third-party litigation funding with clients at the outset.
What involvement can they have?
They do have a perfect right to be kept up to date with the progress of the case. They may also be able to provide valuable legal advice.
What if the funder runs out of money?
The code specifies that funders must have enough money in their coffers at all times to meet all of their possible liabilities. That means all the cases they have agreed to finance.
What if there is a dispute?
An independent Queen’s Counsel will mediate if a funder is accused of behaving unreasonably, or if there is a dispute about the termination of the agreement.
Self-regulation is often a thorny issue. Do you think litigation funding firms should police themselves? Have your say in the comments of this article.