The policymaking arm of the American Bar Association (ABA) recently approved a set of best practices for litigation funding arrangements.
Litigation funding is an increasingly popular technique in which investors finance lawsuits in which they are not a party against companies – often insurers – in return for a share in the settlement. It contributes to “social inflation” – rising litigation costs that affect insurers’ claim payouts, loss ratios, and, ultimately, how much policyholders pay for coverage.
The resolution – adopted by the ABA’s House of Delegates by a vote of 366 to 10 – lists the issues lawyers should consider before entering into agreements with outside funders. While it avoids taking a position on the use of such funding, it recommends that lawyers detail all arrangements in writing and advises them to ensure that the client retains control.
“The litigation should be managed and controlled by the party and the party’s counsel,” the report says. “Limitations on a third-party funder’s involvement in, or direct or indirect control of or input into (or receipt of notice of), either day-to-day or broader litigation management and on all key issues (such as strategy and settlement) should be addressed in the funding agreement.”
It also cautions attorneys against giving funders advice about the merits of a case, warning that this could raise concerns about the waiver of attorney-client privilege and expose lawyers to claims that they have an obligation to update this guidance as the litigation develops.
Opponents of litigation funding have pushed for rules requiring mandatory disclosure of funding arrangements during litigation. The resolution doesn’t take a position on whether disclosures to judges or adversaries should be required, but it urges lawyers to be prepared for the possibility of funding arrangements being scrutinized.
The launch of a new $200 million fund by Pravati Capital this week brings litigation finance firms over the $1 billion mark for funds raised in 2020, according to Bloomberg Law.