Exchange Chambers pioneers litigation funding

Northern set Exchange Chambers has become the first barristers’ chambers to move into the litigation funding market through a tie-up with legal insurance broker Maxima – with both clerks and barristers expected to encourage take-up among clients.

Chief executive Tom Handley said the members fully endorsed the association.

“We see it as a way forward – it’s a progressive move,” he said. “There will be a lot more litigation if third-party funding is made available to clients.”

Maxima, a litigation funding broker, can source funding packages combining after-the-event insurance and third-party funding to invest in litigation for a return if a case is successful.

Under the current conditional fee arrangement model these are recoverable from the losing side. However, once the Ministry of Justice implements reforms, the return will instead have to be repaid by any agreed compensation package.

Clients have been reluctant to use third-party funding because of the high rate of return expected – in some cases up to 60 per cent.

But Handley said: “If we can find an alternative way to provide funding at sensible rates, such as 25 per cent, we can make it a more commercial decision for clients.”

Meanwhile, a new third-party litigation fund has been launched in association with Isle of Man private equity house Bramden Investments.

Vannin Capital is already funding five UK cases plus a US case as well as a piece of international arbitration.

The company’s management team includes former DLA Piper and Irwin Mitchell partner William Evans, who is now a barrister at Ely Place Chambers, and solicitor Nick Rowles-Davies, previously of boutique commercial firm Bridgehouse Partners.