lawgazette.co.uk

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Affiniti Finance, a UK-based litigation funder backing thousands of cases, folded last year when it defaulted on its obligations to its main finance provider Fortress Capital. A recent administrator's report shows that the company was dependent on Fortress to enable it to advance loans to consumer litigants. But the relationship broke down shortly before administrators were appointed last November and Fortress issued an acceleration notice to Affiniti demanding repayment of the entire £42.9m outstanding.
Becca Hogan of Law Gazette predicts that recent landmark 'opt-out' cases have helped in the law of England and Wales, and the wider legal system, to combine to create an extremely powerful way for consumers to discharge their rights. With the first three opt-out collective actions having been approved, she predicts it is likely that we will see an increase in claimants pursuing breaches of competition law on an opt-out basis.
Technology giant Apple has lost a bid to reveal a proposed representative claimant’s after-the-event insurance premiums, with the Competition Appeal Tribunal ruling that disclosure would provide an ‘unfair tactical advantage’ by revealing the insurers’ assessment of risk. The class action is seeking estimated damages of up to £1.5 billion. A hearing to decide whether to grant a CPO in the proposed claim brought by Dr Rachael Kent – who is represented by international disputes firm Hausfeld and backed by litigation funder Vannin Capital – is due to take place in May.
Ian Garrard of Innsworth Advisors argues that the criticism levelled at litigation funders for involving themselves in large groups or opt-out claims such as the recent Lloyd v Google case is ironic in that those levelling the criticism have benefited enormously in comparison to the returns for funders, who facilitate access to compensation for the class who have been wronged.
Michael Cross of the Law Gazette reports that nearly one third of partners at firms with 50 or more lawyers are examining a stock exchange float within the next 18 months, according to research published last week. The poll, commissioned by Harbour Litigation Funding, found that 31% are 'actively considering an initial public offering' while 44% said an IPO was 'under consideration'.
The demise of two big-hitting personal injury firms (Hampson Hughes and Pure Legal) is a sign that the once buoyant claims sector is in a period of flux, with experts pointing to this year’s whiplash reforms as the catalyst for change. Lenders have also had enough and want to see evidence that mountains of claims will actually result in settlements and profits. Pure Legal’s administration was preceded by legal finance provider Novitas petitioning the court for bankruptcy.
Paul Brehony and Kate Gee of Signature Litigation LLP summarise recent auditor negligence claims in the UK and predict that audit reform and increasing regulatory scrutiny, coupled with the rise of group litigation in the UK and the increasing availability of litigation funding, will increase the likelihood of claims being brought in the civil courts against auditors and accounting firms.
As capital floods into litigation funding, the sector has entered a new phase. Rather than sitting back and waiting for cases, funders often now play an integral role in the instigation of litigation – particularly collective actions. A push towards freely available, standardised documents will help hedge funds and other players enter the field, while a secondary market for funding investments is finding its feet.
Lawyers chasing personal injury firms over the deductions from former clients’ damages have been handed a huge boost after a UK costs judge rejected an application by the law firm Slater & Gordon to have claims from its former clients stayed. The cases centre around the so-called 'secret' profits received by the firm as commissions from ATE insurance premiums. There are likely to be hundreds of other similar cases pending this decision against other PI firms.

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