Third party litigation funding (TPLF) is the practice of hedge funds and other financiers investing in lawsuits in exchange for a percentage of any settlement or judgment. TPLF is a global industry with approximately $100 billion available to funders and firms. The practice, while lucrative for those betting on cases, increases the probability that meritless claims will be brought, inserts questions about who is actually controlling the litigation other than the plaintiff and defendant, and makes settling lawsuits far more difficult and expensive. Even the funders admit they deliberately complicate litigation. Allison Chock, Chief Investment Officer at Bentham IMF (one of the world’s largest litigation funders) stated, “We make it harder and more expensive to settle cases,” highlighting TPLF’s distortion of our civil justice system. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) works to bring TPLF, which threatens to undermine long accepted norms in our judicial system, out of the shadows. Read More...
Unlike other financial products, TPLF is largely unregulated around the world. The practice operates in secret, making it difficult for judges and parties to know who actually has an interest in the outcome of the litigation. TPLF also presents various ethical issues, particularly when a funder is directly financing a law firm or lawyer and cutting claimants out of certain significant litigation decisions.
On multiple occasions, ILR has urged the federal Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure and Advisory Rules Committees to adopt a disclosure rule to bring a degree of transparency to TPLF. Recently, ILR led a coalition of 30 business and legal organizations in sending a letter the Committee debunking the funders’ arguments against disclosure and transparency.
ILR believes TPLF, like other outside interests in litigation, should be subject to reasonable transparency standards.