Follow the Money? A Proposed Approach for Disclosure of Litigation Finance Agreements
33 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 26, 2019
Litigation finance is the new and fast-growing practice by which a non-party funds a plaintiff’s litigation either for-profit or for some other motivation. Some estimates placed the size of the litigation finance market at 50–100 billion dollars. Both proponents and opponents of this newly -emergent phenomenon are in agreement that the it is the most important development in civil justice of this era. Litigation finance is already transforming civil litigation at the level of the single case as well as, incrementally, at the level of the civil justice system as a whole. It is also beginning to transform the way law firms are doing business and it will increasingly shape the careers of civil litigators at firms small and large. Consequently, Congress, state legislatures, state and federal courts, bar associations, international arbitration institutions, as well as legislatures and courts in other nations are all proceeding along dozens of parallel tracks grappling with how to regulate litigation finance and especially with the question of what, if any, disclosure requirements to impost on such financing.
This Essay aims to turn the debate inside out by proposing to abandon the quest for a bright line rule and to instead adopt a flexible, discretionary standard; a balancing test. The Essay then culminates in a specific proposal for the contours – the interests and factors – which judges and arbitrators should be empowered and required to weigh when deciding whether and what form of disclosure to require. More specifically, the Essay details and rationalizes the specific interests – public and private – and factors to consider including the profile of the plaintiffs and their motive for seeking funding; the funder’s profile and motivation; the case type and the forum; the subject matter of the litigation; the potential effect on the development of the law; the structure of the financing; the purpose of the contemplated disclosure; and the procedural posture of the case.
Keywords: litigation funding, litigation finance, third party funding, champerty, maintenance, mass torts, class action, contingency fees, fee sharing
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