Third-party funder Woodsford Litigation Funding said Wednesday it has reached a $20 million agreement with law firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC to provide it with financing to pursue litigation and arbitration worldwide on behalf of the firm's clients.
The deal, referred to as a funding facility agreement, will allow Lewis Baach to offer clients a financing arrangement to cover matters in any jurisdiction around the world in which the firm is prepared to offer contingency fee arrangements, Woodsford said. The deal will also cover situations where funding is required for the additional expenses of a dispute, including expert witness fees and e-discovery costs, along with court and tribunal fees, according to the statement.
Steven Friel, Woodsford’s CEO, told Law360 on Wednesday that the deal announcement comes within weeks of opening the funder’s new office in Philadelphia. Woodsford also has offices in London and New York.
“Lewis Baach is exactly the type of firm we like to support. A great group of lawyers, handling complex, high value litigation on the international scene,” Friel said. “And, like Woodsford, the lawyers at Lewis Baach are committed to the principle of access to justice.”
Regarding international arbitration, third-party funding has become increasingly popular in jurisdictions like Australia, England and Wales, various European countries and the U.S. as the costs of such proceedings have skyrocketed. A third-party funder agrees to pay legal expenses in exchange for a piece of the proceeds, whether from a settlement or verdict, if the case is successful.
As for the agreement between Woodsford and Lewis Baach, the third-party funder’s statement noted that the law firm “can seek out and pursue meritorious claims that might otherwise founder due to cost and uncertainty.”
Lewis Baach has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, London, and Buenos Aires, and its partner David G. Liston told Law360 on Wednesday that the firm has had a close working relationship with Woodsford for many years.
“In our experience, the resources and the resolve that Woodsford brings to the equation, combined with a strong claim, a determined client, and a formidable legal team, makes the difference between justice delivered or denied,” Liston said.
This arrangement between Woodsford and Lewis Baach is further supported by Brazilian funder Leste Litigation Finance, Woodsford said.
Friel noted that while the U.S. and the U.K. are Woodsford’s two key markets, the funder has its sights set on Latin America and Asia.
The statement on the $20 million funding deal with Lewis Baach comes after Hong Kong in June passed legislation clarifying that third-party funding of arbitration and the arbitration of intellectual property disputes are legal, steps that were viewed as being key to solidifying the territory's reputation as a leading center for international dispute resolution.
The legislation on third-party funding, which amends the special administrative region's law dealing with international arbitration — the Arbitration Ordinance (Cap. 609) — comes months after the Hong Kong Law Reform Commission issued a report stating that third-party funding should be permitted in the region as long as financial and ethical safeguards are in place. The bill also officially legalizes third-party funding in mediations.