My heading is not a report that litigation insurers have actually shown an interest in electronic disclosure. They clearly have an interest, though, in the sense that their interests must lie in anything which has the potential to bring parties as quickly as possible to settlement or to court.
The subject comes up with the news that Herbert Smith is apparently the first firm of solicitors to approach a broker directly to find financial backing for a case (see Herbies blaze a trail with litigation funding move in the Lawyer today). The broker was Calunius Capital LLP.
This is getting to be an interesting market, with Allianz announcing in mid-October that it was launching a new fund, aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, to back what they see as “genune” claims – for which read, presumably, ones thought very likely to succeed.
One expects insurers to take a close interest not just in the likely outcome of a case but in the costs incurred in getting to an outcome. All litigants have that interest, of course, but insurers have extra clout by virtue of the fact that their whole business involves picking up the tab for litigation costs.
Insurers can choose their solicitors by reference to their perceived focus on the costs issues as well as for their purely legal skills. Personal injury panel members can be seen brushing up their systems at the moment, as a result of the government’s pressure on medical defendants to reach a conclusion quickly.
Allianz is – for now – the biggest litigation financier in Europe. There is an interesting interview with Arndt Eversberg, one of its Managing Directors, on its web site. Allianz’s move into the growing UK market must help stimulate interest in using eDisclosure to keep the costs down – and not just its own side.
The eDisclosure Information Project is looking for support from all those who engage in UK litigation. The courts are the biggest potential influencers here, and a good start has been made there, as my web pages on the project report. Solicitors, corporate clients, and suppliers of software and services all have both the power to influence how things go and the biggest potential benefit. Litigation insurers have more to win or lose than most, and a correspondingly greater interest in seeing this most expensive part of litigation brought under control.
They have more power to persuade solicitors to take the time-saving, cost effective paths than anyone apart from the judges. As with personal injury lawyers, those who seek any kind of insurance-funded work would do well to consider whether they are equipped to shine on costs-control, as well as on the law and tactics, at a beauty parade.