Law firm, funders and broker team up to launch IPEC product

Harrison: Access to justice tool

A law firm, litigation funder, after-the-event (ATE) provider and insurance broker have teamed up to launch a product to fund claims brought in the Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court (IPEC).

Home counties firm Debenhams Ottaway has joined forces with Sparkle Capital, Acasta Europe and Sybaris Legal & IP to target both the SME market and IP portfolio holders such as brand owners, musicians and the pharmaceutical industry.

Last year, Debenhams Ottaway created a funding panel to cut out brokers’ fees and making smaller cases viable for backing – Sparkle Capital was one of the three funders on it.

Sparkle is a privately owned company belonging to the family of Fred Done, the English billionaire best known for setting up BetFred, and is administered by Acasta.

Sybaris is an insurance broker operating in the intellectual property arena and will operate one of the distribution channels.

The product can cater for claims valued from £50,000 to £500,000. The fixed recoverable costs in IPEC limit the recoverable costs in stages up to £50,000; the limited exposure to adverse costs makes it an attractive venue for litigation financiers.

Debenhams Ottaway will offer a discounted conditional fee agreement, with funding from Sparkle to meet the discounted element of the fees and disbursements.

They said in a joint statement that the cost of the funding was low by market standards because it was based on a fixed interest rate rather than a share of the award.

Further, it is non-recourse as it is covered by the after-the-event and financial guarantee insurance provided by Acasta.

Luke Harrison, Debenhams Ottaway’s lead litigation and dispute resolution partner, and chairman of the Commercial Litigation Association, said: “This is essentially an access to justice tool.

“Whilst there are a number of ways IP may be protected, enforcing those rights in practice through the courts is often the only tool available to protect their value.”

Tets Ishikawa, director at Acasta and senior adviser at Sparkle Capital, said: “The delivery of real access to justice can only progress with a solutions-led approach that lead to products meeting the actual needs of legal claims.”

Ian Wishart, a director of Sybaris Legal & IP and himself an experienced patent attorney and an inventor, added: “This new funding product will benefit potential litigants before IPEC who have been unable to pursue good claims, sometimes against much larger firms, because of a lack of resources.

“It levels the playing field, and enables IP rights owners to retain value and leverage those rights.”

Luke Harrison is speaking about litigation funding and also the future of litigation at next month’s Legal Futures Civil Litigation Conference. Click here for more details – tomorrow is the last chance to book at the early bird price.

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