Rocco Pirozzolo moderates panel at IMN International Litigation Finance Forum in London

7 Nov 2023

Managing director Rocco Pirozzolo moderated a panel that discussed ‘Litigation Funding and Insurance Trends: What Do Lawyers Want?’ at IMN’s International Litigation Finance Forum in London on 19 October

Trends in the market

Rocco opened the discussion by asking what trends the panellists are currently seeing. Nicola Gare, Knowledge Counsel at law firm HFW, said there has been a huge change in the market in recent years. Funding and insurance are now an integral part of litigation. Clients use it to preserve capital and also to chase down debts, especially bank debts they may otherwise have walked away from.

James Gowen-Smith, Head of ATE Insurance at Miller, said he is seeing two trends in particular. The first is an uptick in clients’ appetite for products other than traditional dispute insurance, such as cross-undertaking in damages insurance and law firm contingency fee cover. The other is a shift in the number of enquiries from overseas, either foreign clients with litigation based over here or in relation to disputes based in other jurisdictions.

Lawyers’ appetite for risk

Rocco then asked the lawyers on the panel about their appetite for risk. Both lawyers on the panel, Nicola Gare and Glenn Newberry, a partner at Eversheds Sutherland, were keen to emphasise they are happy to share risk with clients, but they analyse the risks they take on extremely carefully. Glenn Newberry said that where they take on a case on a contingency basis, insurance products that cover the firm’s work in progress are very useful.

Frustrations with litigation funding and insurance

The panellists then discussed their frustrations with the funding and insurance market. Nicola Gare turned the question on its head and talked about what she likes. She said that if a funder doesn’t think a case will work for them, she wants them to tell her immediately and explain why, as many people will be spending time on a case and costs will be running up. Also, if a funder is going to back a case, she would like them to speed up as she feels the process could be more efficient and should not take months to get over the line.

James Gowen-Smith believes that it would be more efficient if he was involved early on to work with the law firm and client on the timing for approaching the market as well as advise on which funders and insurers are most appropriate for the case.

The panel comprised Glenn Newberry, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland; Nicola Gare, Knowledge Counsel (Dispute Resolution) HFW; James Gowen-Smith, Head of ATE Insurance, Miller; and Jamie Molloy, Head of ATE, Ignite Insurance.

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