Indiana has become the latest state to require disclosure of third-party litigation funding in civil lawsuits.
The legislation – signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb on April 20 – requires that each party in a civil proceeding and each insurer that has a duty to defend a party in court be notified of any litigation funding agreement before the case begins.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office defines third-party litigation funding as “an arrangement in which a funder who is not a party to the lawsuit agrees to help fund it.” Global multi-billion-dollar investing firms have made third-party litigation funding their sole or primary business and are experiencing strong growth.
As the market lacks transparency, estimates on its size can vary but, according to Swiss Re, more than half of the $17 billion invested into litigation funding globally in 2020 was deployed in the United States. Swiss Re estimates the market will be as big as $30 billion by 2028. Meanwhile, affordability of insurance coverage – especially for commercial auto products – has come under threat from increases in litigation and claim costs.
Several states have preceded Indiana in seeking to increase transparency around third-party litigation funding. In 2018, New York enacted legislation that added Section 489 to the New York Judiciary Law. This law mandates the disclosure of litigation financing agreements in class action lawsuits and certain aggregate settlement cases. In the same year, Wisconsin instituted a statutory provision requiring the disclosure of litigation funding arrangements. West Virginia followed suit in 2019.
In 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey amended its rules to require disclosures about third-party litigation funding in cases before the court. The Northern District of California imposed a similar rule in 2017 for class, mass, and collective actions throughout the district.
In 2022, Illinois passed the Consumer Legal Funding Act (S.B. 1099), which implemented several statutory provisions regulating aspects of third-party litigation funding, but it doesn’t address disclosure of these arrangements or information about the existence of a funding arrangement to defendants as part of claim litigation.
Litigation funding not only drives up costs – it introduces motives beyond achieving just results to the judicial process. This is why the practice was once widely prohibited in the United States. As these bans have been eroded in recent decades, litigation funding has grown, spread, and morphed into forms that can cost plaintiffs more in interest than they might otherwise gain in a settlement. In fact, it can encourage lengthier litigation to the detriment of all involved – except for the funders and the plaintiff attorneys.Top of Form
The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) applauded Indiana’s move.
“Litigation funding is a multi-billion-dollar industry that for years has driven up the length and cost of civil cases,” said Neil Alldredge, president and chief executive officer of NAMIC. “While there is much more that needs to be done to address this issue, this law represents important progress.”
Revealing litigation funding from a third party before commencement of a lawsuit “will help thwart opportunistic investors from promoting return on investment over client interests and siphoning value from clients away from policyholders, claimants and insurers,” Alldredge said.