Posted by Chris Deadman, director of operations at Litigation Futures Associate Invicta Capital Funding
According to successive government road safety campaigns and legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach, ‘Speed Kills’. In the considerably less dangerous world of litigation finance, that truism applies equally.
As I have discussed previously, future success in this industry belongs to those providers who can deliver finance to applicant lawyers quickly, simply and cost-effectively.
The application process should not resemble one of those ‘Choose your own adventure’ roleplay books from the 1980s where the reader assumes the role of the protagonist and makes choices that determines the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome.
Funders who cleave to application processes of such bewildering prolixity are already dead – they just don’t know it yet.
But whilst some financiers are rightly criticised for being slow and indecisive, lawyers and their clients too are not always beyond reproach. A failure to plan on the part of the lawyer or claimant characterises many of the applications that skitter across my desk.
I am approached on an almost weekly basis to consider matters where limitation expires in a matter of days and financing and insurance is required urgently. Despite having a period of six years in which to make financial provision for a matter, I am expected to make a commitment to invest other people’s money within 72 hours.
I seldom bother with these applications unless there are extenuating circumstances. A last-minute seat-of-the-pants approach to litigation is usually redolent of a claimant or lawyer who regards a funder as nothing more than a wealthy fool with an appetite for underwriting other people’s mistakes.
Even where there are no obvious external time pressures, some lawyers and clients still don’t always respond to the funder’s requests for further evidence or information with the expected level of alacrity. Very often their response rate resembles that of a heavily sedated wardrobe, or for those dragged up in the 1970s, Petrocelli’s builder.
There are, I am sure, lots of reasons why lawyers can’t move quickly when it comes to providing the required supplementary information quickly. I just can’t think of any right now. So whilst is undoubtedly true that funders are mostly to blame for delays in financing a matter, lawyers must also shoulder their share of the responsibility.