On August 3, 2020, The American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates, by a vote of 366-10, voted to adopt the resolution for “Best Practices for Third-Party Litigation Funding”. This established a slew of national guidelines that law firms, consumers and legal funding companies should follow.
We applaud the ABA in setting these standards that ARC and its members already follow. Some of the items that they highlight are:
- The arrangement should be spelled out in writing.
- The writing should make clear the non-recourse nature of the investment the funder is making in the claim; how the funder will be compensated
- Who is responsible for paying the funder, from what source (g., the recovery after trial or settlement) and when (e.g., time period after receipt of judgment or settlement funds)
- The arrangement should be structured so that the client retains control of the litigation, and not the funder.
- Lawyers should be cautious in making case-related reports or predictions.
- Funding agreements should state the amount of funding to be provided, the amount or method of calculating the return to the third-party funder, and how and when the proceeds of the party’s recovery are to be distributed among Funding agreements should provide a fair, transparent, and independent dispute resolution process.
- Funding agreements also should include a recommendation that a party obtain independent legal advice as to whether to enter into the proposed There should also be a confidentiality obligation for the funder that survives termination of the agreement
- In client-funder financing, the third-party funder and the party should be the sole parties to the funding agreement, in order to avoid any potential attorney conflicts of interest, should the party and the funder disagree on a material issue during the course of the litigation. Many non-recourse finance agreements ask the attorney to promise the funder that the attorney will notify the funder when the case is resolved.
- Limitations on a third-party funder’s involvement in, or direct or indirect control of, or input into (or receipt of notice of), either day-to-day or broader litigation management and on all key issues (such as strategy and settlement), should be addressed in the funding agreement.
- Lawyers may want to obtain written acknowledgement that the funder will not seek to control the litigation or the expense.
These items are consistent with the statutes that ARC and its members support in legislation. ARC fully supports proper regulation of the Consumer Legal Funding Industry across the country.