Litigation funding giant Burford Capital expects to cut more deals with law firms after pledging an eight-figure sum to fund several cases brought by UK top-100 firm Shepherd & Wedderburn.
The deal provides a pot of cash with which Shepherd & Wedderburn can fund a portfolio of cases. According to both parties, the arrangement is the first of its kind to be offered to a major UK law firm. However, Burford would not reveal the exact figure it would be making available.
Similar portfolio deals have proved increasingly attractive to US law firms, and Burford said it hoped to agree more deals with firms.
Burford also refused to reveal what portion of the proceeds from cases it expects to collect. In a collective claim against Mastercard, thrown out last week, Burford - which funded the case - reportedly stood to receive at least £135m - or 30% of the proceeds of the case up to £1bn plus 20% of the proceeds over £1bn.
Guy Harvey, head of commercial and international disputes at Shepherd & Wedderburn, said the funding agreement enhanced the firm’s capacity to take on new matters on an alternative fee arrangement basis without adding risk.
Craig Arnott, managing director of Burford in London said: ‘Portfolio finance is an essential tool to help UK law firms be nimble and innovative to attract clients, and Burford is unmatched in our ability and our experience in portfolio finance for firms around the world.’
The agreement may prove problematic in Scotland, where the firm has three offices, as damages-based agreement funding is not currently allowed in the jurisdiction. However, a bill currently making its way through the Scottish parliament (the Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill), is designed to bring Scotland more in line with England and Wales.