A couple of weeks ago I went along to an excellent debate on damages-based agreements chaired by Michael Napier QC, and hosted by Harbour Litigation Funding and Expedite Resolution.
One of the main points that came across was the extent to which the shoddy drafting of the DBA Regulations is deterring firms from wanting to try them (see April’s Litigation Funding magazine for more detail).
Harbour’s Susan Dunn recounted that initially she had seen considerable intereste in DBAs from the types of firms that are already big players in the CFA world. But since the regulations came out, there is so much ambiguity over what is and is not allowed, that firms just don’t want to take the risk. This was confirmed to me after the panel discussion by a second funder who had also seen firms getting cold feet over the DBA Regulations.
So it was encouraging last week to see an email pinging through from Lewis Silkin, announcing that it is launching a new ‘product’ specifically geared towards the new alternative funding arrangements.
In partnership with broker TheJudge, Lewis Silkin has established a ‘panel’ of third-party funders and after-the-event insurers (including Elite Insurance and funders Vannin and Therium) to fast-track the funding/insurance process for clients and, it claims, provide quotes or proposals within five working days.
The panel is expetced to be particularly useful for trusts disputes, investment disputes and professional negligence claims. Lewis Silkin litigation partner Tamar Halevy predicts that DBAs will ‘dramatically’ alter the marketplace for litigation funding. But whether or not that transpires will depend on the attitude other firms take to DBAs.
Also at the debate this month, Lord Justice Ramsay assertd that the judiciary and the profession are all ‘ready’ for implementation of the Jackson reforms on 1st April. When I put that comments on Twitter it met with a barrage of derision from lawyers – so I think it’s fair to say that much of the profession would disagree with him on that one.
Referring to the deluge of cases that lawyers have been signing up for ATE insurance ahead of the deadline, Ramsay also predicted that the courts will still be seeing some cases operating under the old rules for the next year. So recoverability may not be dead just yet.
Rachel Rothwell is editor or Litigation Funding magazine, providing in-depth coverage on costs and the financing of litigation.