The European Litigation Funders Association (“ELFA”) has been established to serve as the European voice of the commercial litigation funding industry. With a focus on the EU, ELFA’s objective is to represent the industry before EU clients, governmental bodies, international organizations, and professional associations, and to set good standards of practice to be promoted throughout the industry.
ELFA is founded by three leading litigation funders with a European footprint including Deminor, Nivalion AG, and Omni Bridgeway Limited. ELFA’s current directors are Charles Demoulin (Chief Investment Officer, Deminor); Marcel Wegmüller (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Nivalion AG); and Wieger Wielinga (Managing Director EMEA Omni Bridgeway), who will serve as ELFA’s inaugural Chairman. The intention of the association is to be inclusive for all professional litigation funders of larger or smaller size.
“ELFA’s membership will be comprised of professional funders who are active and present in the EU and is intended to include both large established funders as well as small, emerging funders,” states Wielinga. “My co-founders and I saw a clear need for this level of inclusivity and concentration on the EU. What not everyone knows, is that the cradle of the legal finance industry lies here in the EU, where it was created thirty years ago. The establishment of ELFA is a natural next step in our industry’s progression. We are already in discussions with a number of interested funders who are enthusiastic about joining ELFA.”
The association invites prospective members who meet ELFA’s membership criteria and adhere to the association’s Code of Conduct which is central to ELFA’s mandate. The code establishes and promotes high industry standards, general principles and best practices in the interests of clients to ensure that litigation funders follow the same institutional standards and processes clients expect of their other finance partners.
In this regard, states Demoulin, “The establishment of ELFA underscores the industry’s maturation in the financial services community, while indicative of the growing need for dispute finding solutions.” He continues, “Fundamentally, legal financing supports the rule of law. For companies, organizations or individuals with limited resources, litigation funding facilitates access to justice by ensuring that disputes are resolved based on the merits, not who has the bigger legal budget. Litigation funding helps restoring the balance.”
Typically, a commercial legal finance provider will pay the fees and expenses associated with the pursuit of a claim or will advance a portion of the value of the pending claim, in exchange for a portion of the recovery of the judgment or award if the matter is successful.
Wegmüller notes, “Expanding the understanding of our industry, the role we serve in legal and financial contexts, and value we provide clients is one cornerstone of ELFA’s purpose. ELFA aims to be the primary and trusted resource in the EU for information, research, commentary and inquiries concerning dispute funding and commercial legal finance.”
The growth of legal finance globally has seen the emergence of associations representing other regions and industry participants. ILFA (International Legal Finance Association) represents the largest funders with international footprints and operations, and ALF (Association of Litigation Funders) represents funders active in England and Wales.
“With the legal finance industry incepted in the EU in the late 1980’s and growing exponentially, particularly in recent years, it is time to organize our collective voice to ensure and promote our sector’s continued transparency, sound principles, and intelligent consideration in the EU’s legal forums and financial markets,” concludes Wielinga. “We are convinced that litigation funding can contribute something valuable to the legal ecosystem.”