Burford’s ‘Timing’ Loss Shows Litigation Funders Need Patience

Burford Capital’s $72 million annual loss—the first in its history—shows the risk litigation funders face in growing their caseloads while the Covid-19 pandemic slowed court dockets, delaying payoffs for investors. Burford last year invested $447 million in cases, about twice the $225 million it deployed in 2020, the company said in its annual report. But with fewer cases being decided through trials and settlements, payoffs from those investments—and others made in prior years—weren’t realised. “Burford turned in an excellent 2021,” the company’s chairman, Hugh Steven Wilson, said in a March 29 statement disclosing results. “This may seem odd to say as we report the first loss in our history, but that is a matter of timing.”

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Insights

A report on class action recoveries: Why companies opt out and what they stand to gain

New research commissioned by Burford Capital demonstrates that companies that choose not to opt out of a class action proceeding do so for economic reasons, and that companies with large claims stand to recover more and can preserve their budgets by using legal finance as part of their opt out strategies. The research also shows that companies already using legal financing are opting out three times more often than their competitors.

In the News

Future of Patent Licensing Deals on the Line at Federal Circuit

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC is set to rule on whether a patent owner who gives the ability to sublicense a patent can still sue another for infringement in a case that could have implications for other litigation funding transactions, after judges in Delaware and the Northern District of California ruled that Uniloc – which defaulted on a Fortress loan it used to pay for lawsuits against Motorola, Apple and Google, triggering a provision in the deal that ceded its patent sublicensing rights to Fortress – no longer had exclusionary rights to the patents and thus didn’t have legal standing to sue.

In the News

Litigation Fund Fight Shows Trap Lurking in Win-Win Deals

Woodsford Group is trying to collect a $1.8 million arbitration award against Hosie Rice, a San Francisco law firm, which claims that Woodsford is going after fees that were never part of the deal, even though a panel of three arbitrators found the contract gave Woodsford the right to collect from the case.

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