Thursday, April 17, 2014
While the number of lawsuits filed against U.S. companies in the past year was stable, the financial impact of the litigation they face continues to increase, according to Norton Rose Fulbrightâ€™s Annual Litigation Trends Survey.
More than one-third (34 percent) of all companies faced at least one lawsuit with more than $20 million at issue in 2013, up from just 23 percent in 2011, continuing a trend in recent years thatâ€™s left fewer respondents untouched by high-value cases.
Energy companies are much more likely to have one or more large lawsuits pending against them compared to other industries (52 percent versus 34 percent for the total sample), the study found, as are larger companies generally (51 percent versus 34 percent for the overall sample).
Among the largest companies surveyed (revenue greater than $5 billion), two-thirds reported having one or more lawsuits greater than $20 million pending against them, twice the rate for the overall sample.
Meanwhile, the percentage of larger companies spending $10 million or more annually on litigation increased to 43 percent in 2013 â€“ the second consecutive year of growth (33 percent in 2012, 19 percent in 2011).
Another key takeaway from this yearâ€™s study is that healthcare industry respondents had the most litigation matters compared with other industries, with 55 percent indicating more than 20 suits versus 30 percent for the overall sample.
That increased activity also led to higher spending, with 49 percent of healthcare respondents reporting a 2013 litigation spend of $5 million or more, closely followed by energy at 46 percent.
The percentage of financial services companies spending $5 million or more on litigation more than doubled to 38 percent in 2013, up from 15 percent in 2012 and just 11 percent in 2011.
Labor and employment disputes once again were the most common litigation issues facing U.S. companies in 2013.
The number of U.S. companies facing regulatory proceedings increased for the third consecutive year, reflecting a stricter regulatory environment and increased scrutiny from a broad range of state and federal agencies.
Not surprisingly, legal counsel concerns over regulatory/investigation matters are also up sharply in the 2013 survey, with 41 percent of respondents indicating it as a top concern, versus just 23 percent in 2012.
Norton Rose Fulbrightâ€™s 10th annual litigation trends survey of corporate law departments in the U.S. saw responses from a total of 401 senior corporate counsel executives representing a broad range of industries.