As we put 2020 in our rear-view mirror, let us look at what took place in the space of Consumer Legal Funding.
The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted the Best Practices for Third-Party Litigation Funding. In it, the ABA lays out a set of guidelines that attorneys should follow when working with Consumer Legal Funding companies. This will ensure that consumers, attorneys, and funding companies will be protected, and the product will be offered properly.
The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) board voted to support the ABA resolution on litigation financing.
To ensure consistency across the country, ARC updated our set of Best Practices to be in line with the ABA set of Best Practices on the industry. This will ensure that a consumer in Maine will have the same set of Best Practices as a consumer in Oregon.
As a follow-up to the new set of Best Practices, the ABA held a virtual CLE to explain how they would be implemented. ARC participated and explained how our Best Practices are beneficial for consumers and the industry as a whole.
In addition to the ABA, the New York City Bar Association published its report on use of Litigation Funding for Consumers. In the report, they publish a set of guidelines that should be followed in a contract with the consumer, including stating that the agreement is a non-recourse transaction, ensuring acknowledgement by the consumer’s attorney, and affirming non-compensation to the consumer’s attorney.
The California Bar Association also published its opinion on the industry, which was consistent with what was stated by the ABA and the New York City Bar Association.
Additionally, the state of Utah introduced and passed legislation to regulate Consumer Legal Funding. The legislation—which was passed nearly unanimously—insists on clear notice and disclosure to the consumer as to the terms and conditions of the contract. The consumer’s attorney will be made aware of the transaction and that there are no rate restrictions on the product, thereby allowing the free market to dictate rates. Each company will have to report on an annual basis the rates they do charge to the state.
As we roll into 2021, we are hoping that other State Associations will follow the lead of the ABA, NJSBA, the New York City Bar Association and the California Bar Association in setting up practical guidelines for the use of Consumer Legal Funding.
We also hope that other State Legislatures follow what Utah, Nebraska, Ohio, Maine, and Oklahoma have done in passing sensible legislation that provides consumer protections while allowing the industry to operate in a free market environment.