The International Legal Finance Association (ILFA) has been launched in Washington DC, with a substantial presence in London, to give a global voice to the commercial litigation funding industry.
ILFA’s inaugural chairman is Leslie Perrin, chairman of London-based Calunius Capital and former head of the Association of Litigation Funders of England and Wales.
The members of ILFA represent more than $10bn in current commercial legal finance activity. The founders were Burford Capital, Harbour Litigation Funding, Longford Capital Management, Omni Bridgeway, Therium Capital Management and Woodsford Litigation Funding.
They have since been joined by DE Shaw & Co, Fortress Investment Group, Law Finance Group, Nivalion, Parabellum Capital and Validity Finance.
The association aims to establish and promote general principles of best practice, as well as expand public knowledge of the industry, and “monitor and, where appropriate, intervene in litigation where questions related to the industry are before courts or other adjudicative bodies”.
It is positioning itself as pro-business – by enabling companies with meritorious claims to pursue them – and this message, along with the creation of the association itself, is likely to be in large part a response to the activities of the US Chambers of Commerce.
The chamber, through its Institute for Legal Reform, has for several years been portraying litigation funding as anti-business by promoting a culture of litigation, and has been campaigning for far tighter regulation in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and at EU level.
Mr Perrin said: “The commercial legal finance industry is a critical partner for businesses across the globe. The spectacular growth of our industry over the last few decades speaks volumes about what a valuable service our industry provides.
“Innovation and growth are not always met with universal praise. Unfortunately, some will always view innovation and growth as a threat to the status quo.
“ILFA looks forward to leading the efforts to educate businesses about our industry, advocate for our members and provide a much-needed voice for clients who rely on us and the services we provide.”
ILFA will not have a position on the form of any regulation that countries should impose, saying it is a matter for governments and will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
“However the local chapters of ILFA will work with institutions in their respective jurisdictions to inform their policy on legal finance, to ensure that this policy reflects ILFA principles and best practices and promotes the benefits that legal finance can bring and to oppose policy initiatives designed to stifle legal finance and access to justice under the guise of regulation.”