The opening of the first United States office was announced by Woodsford Litigation Funding in July 2017. The funder follows the steps of other investors in the market such as Bentham IMF, Vannin Capital and Burford Capital. The funder said the expansion was a natural outcome of having already funded a number of US cases.
Woodsford managed to employ a team of experienced litigators to its US advisory panel. Many of them are former members of the federal judiciary. And it is a common case, in the US, for them to take up posts within law firms. For instance, Shira Scheindlin, former US District Court judge for the Southern District of New York, said that she was pleased to join Woodsford as it brings its international expertise to the United States.
Nowadays, joining the litigation funding industry seems to be a popular route when leaving Big Law. There are a lot of examples of funders growing their operations by raiding it. From their point of view, enlisting people from Big Law may be positive as they get the dual benefit. On the one hand, they hire someone who can quickly point out the strengths and weaknesses of a case. On the other, they employ someone who can source deals from former colleagues. But what’s the draw for the attorneys? The answer lies in the number of working hours.
Ryan will speak on a panel covering attorney & corporate counsel experiences with litigation finance.
ABOUT CONNOLLY GALLAGHER LLP
Connolly Gallagher LLP, with offices in Wilmington and Newark, Delaware,consists of highly-respected and experienced Delaware attorneys who each possess deep knowledge in complementary practice areas—commercial litigation, corporate counseling, government law, bankruptcy and business reorganization, wealth planning, commercial real estate, employment law, and family law. For more information, please visit http://www.connollygallagher.com.
Ryan represents clients who are faced variety of business law issues, both in and out of litigation. In litigation, Ryan has represented parties in corporate and commercial litigation in the Delaware Court of Chancery, the Delaware Superior Court, the Delaware Supreme Court, and the District of Delaware. He has also represented parties as Delaware counsel in intellectual property litigation in the District of Delaware. While the bulk of his practice is focused on these types of commercial litigations, Ryan has experience representing government entities and parties in trust litigations. In particular, Ryan was part of a team that successfully defended the State of Delaware before the United States Supreme Court in an original jurisdiction action brought by New Jersey that challenged Delaware’s sovereignty over the Delaware River within its historic Twelve Mile Circle.
Outside of litigation, Ryan advises companies and their principals in matters concerning Delaware corporate governance and other Delaware commercial law issues. He is also a Delaware Superior Court certified mediator and has been appointed by the Court of Chancery and Superior Court as a Special Master and an assistant to a Special Master. Ryan has also completed The Sedona Conference’s eDiscovery Negotiation Training program, which is an invitation only program. Ryan has received an AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating, which is Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating for lawyers. In 2015 and 2016, he was selected by other Delaware attorneys as one of Delaware’s Top Lawyers.
ABOUT THE LITIGATION FUNDING CONFERENCE
The Litigation Funding Conference is an intense networking event for third party litigation funding firms, venture capitalists, hedge funds, corporate counsel and attorneys from significantly sized law firms seeking finances for high value claims. Financial professionals and investors representing significant resources to capital will be present to fund suits they are expressly interested in.
Time, the most valuable commodity at the event, is designed for maximum efficiency in introducing attorneys with those that provide funding to quickly identify the best opportunities and begin the deal making process.
Hong Kong and Singapore are in the process of amending laws which will allow litigation funding. The proposed amendments will allow third-parties to fund arbitrations seated in these cities. Despite the fact that Singapore and Hong Kong are among the top locations for arbitration globally. Their current laws prohibit litigation financing.
Litigation Funding in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Law Reform Commission first proposed an amendment to allow third-party funding in October 2015. Over a year later, a bill to that effect was published in the Government Gazette. The bill was formally introduced in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in January 2017 at its “first reading.” The next step is the second reading, where a vote will take place. The date has not been announced yet. But the law is expected to take effect this year.
The bill amends the Arbitration Ordinance, the current law applicable to domestic and international arbitrations in Hong Kong. The amendment provides that the laws of maintenance, champerty, and barratry will not apply to third-party funding in arbitrations. The proposed law also provides for certain standards and requirements needed to provide or access funding in these cases.
Litigation Funding in Singapore
Singapore published its amendment in the Government Gazette in February 2017. Singapore Parliament approved the law, the Civil Law (Amendment) Act 2017, in January 2017. The law will abolish maintenance and champerty laws in Singapore and permit third-party funding in certain categories of dispute resolution proceedings. The new law takes effect on March 1, 2017.
Singapore’s amendment comes with associated regulations and rules of professional conduct. The regulations provide a list of criteria third-party funders must meet in order to provide financing. One such requirement is that the third-party must be in the “principal business” of litigation funding. The regulations also set out certain categories of cases where third-party funding will be allowed. As for professional conduct, one new rule requires attorneys to disclose any funding agreements to the relevant court or tribunal. The identity of the third-party funder must also be disclosed.
The University of Michigan is in talks to invest $5 million of its endowment in litigation funding.
The university plans to invest with Lake Whillans, a litigation funding company, with the goal of receiving a portion of proceeds from successful cases. According to Lake Whillan’s website, the company invests in meritorious commercial claims with realistic damages in excess of $20 million. The investment is part of the University of Michigan’s aim to diversify its portfolio by investing in areas where returns are independent of financial markets.
Last year, the university invested in real estate, credit, and energy funds. The university’s endowment was valued at $10.5 billion at the end of 2016.
Third-party litigation financing agreements are now required to be automatically disclosed in all proposed class actions in the Northern District of California. The automatic disclosure rule is the first of its kinds in the United States district courts.
The new rule, which states that “in any proposed class, collective or representative action, the required disclosure includes any person or entity that is funding the prosecution of any claim or counterclaim,” was adopted in a court-wide standing order for all judges in the Northern District of California. Although this is a huge step toward greater transparency in third party financing, the rule is unlikely to impact big players in litigation financing like Burford Capital and Bentham IMF, as they do not typically fund class action cases.
A Burford statement indicated that the new rule may even allow courts to see how common litigation financing in class action lawsuits has become. The new rule is indeed limited—it was adopted after the court previously proposed an even broad requirement of automatic disclosure in all cases.
The New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, upheld in
Justinian Capital SPC v. WestLB AG the trial court’s summary judgment in defendant’s favor, holding that the lawsuit violated the State’s champerty statute. This is the first time in over a century that the Court found a suit to be champertous, meaning illegally funded by a third party that would also share the potential benefit if the funded party were to prevail. The noteworthy aspect of the Court’s holding is its expansive definition of champerty, which extends beyond fraudulent suits or suits that would not have been filed but for the third party’s funding. However, the decision confirms that the New York law does not apply to those investing over $500,000.
COOK COUNTY RECORD – Oct.18 – Ex-employees have sued Oasis Financial company. The litigation finance company funds money to individuals. Oasis is claimed to overwork their employees overtime pay, and also enforced employment agreements preventing former employees to work with competitors for as long as two years.
According to the lawsuit, Oasis required employees (Tyler Beauchamp and Trevor Scott) to work 10+ hour days, five days a week. They were and “discouraged from taking lunch breaks.” The lawsuit also alleges that the company did not pay to compensate for the added work hours, and paid no overtime.
Damages assessed to Oasis includes twice the amount of unpaid overtime hourly wages, statutory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.