Every few weeks UK funders seem to be informing me about new hires, or new offices, around the globe.
Last month Woodsford opened its first US office, in Philadelphia. Meanwhile Vannin announced the launch of a New York office this month; its second office in the US, after it set up in Washington DC in 2016. Vannin has hired three new investment directors for the office, and boldly pronounces that the move is part of a wider ’major global growth plan’ over the next 12 months, with the funder looking to significantly bolster its Mid and West Coast presence, as well as expanding into new and existing territories including the Middle East and Asia.
These developments highlight the extent to which even the US funding market, which is much more established than in many other jurisdictions, is still seen as offering plenty of headroom for growth.
In Asia, we have now seen funders beginning to capitalise on the lifting of arbitration funding restrictions in Singapore; with Burford boasting that it was backing what is thought to be the first third-party funded arbitration matter in Singapore at the end of June.
There have been a few setbacks for the industry - such as the recent decision by Ireland’s Supreme Court, that funding is not permitted in Ireland; or indeed the recent Competition Appeal Tribunal’s rejection of the huge funded class action in Mastercard.
But despite a few bumps in the road, the boom in funding currently seems unstoppable. Not only is there still plenty of scope for expansion in the more established markets of the US, the UK and Australia, but it is fast spreading to entirely new areas – south America, for example - often riding on the back of the growth of arbitration as a way of resolving disputes.
The bigger the industry gets, of course, the louder the cries will become seeking government regulation of it. But despite recent calls by former justice minister Lord Faulks for greater regulatory safeguards in relation to funders, one suspects government has other things on its mind at the moment.