Omni Bridgeway: Leading Litigation Finance | In Practise

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Omni Bridgeway: Leading Litigation Finance

Investment Manager at Omni Bridgeway

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Differences between litigation and arbitration cases
  • How Omni Bridgeway conducts due diligence on cases
  • Commercial and pricing structures for funding cases
  • Why the large public funders have a competitive advantage over private funders
  • The strategic value and expertise large litigation funders bring to the process
  • How law firms choose litigation financing partners
  • The future of litigation finance

Executive Bio

Ruth Stackpool-Moore

Investment Manager at Omni Bridgeway

Ruth is a cross-border international dispute resolution lawyer, qualified in Australia and the UK. She has 12 years’ experience in private practice at leading global law firms; in global dispute finance and at one of the world’s leading international arbitration centres. She has represented multinational organisations in, acted as tribunal secretary for and reviewed from a commercial and legal standpoint complex cross-border matters throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, USA and the Middle East in a variety of sectors including defence, telecommunications, construction, media, pharmaceuticals and natural resources. One of the first to set up and manage local operations for a global dispute funder in Asia, Ruth has been commercially assessing dispute prospects and funding cases in civil and common law jurisdictions in Asia, and globally, since 2015. She has also worked to develop regional political and legislative frameworks to allow third party funding in key Asian jurisdictions. Ruth is a member of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre Task Force on Third Party Funding. Before joining Omni Bridgeway, Ruth was Managing Director for an exclusive broker to a global litigation funder in the Asia Pacific region. She joined the dispute finance market from the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre where, as Managing Counsel, she led the arbitration team for several years and, in 2014, managed the Centre as Acting Secretary-General. Read more

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Interview Transcript

Ruth, can you provide a short introduction to your background, please?

My name is Ruth Stackpool-Moore and I am an investment manager with Omni Bridgeway, based in Singapore. I joined the Omni Bridgeway team just over a year ago, about this time in 2019 and that was just around the time of the merger of the IMF and the Omni Bridgeway brands. I’ve worked in third-party funding for about five years, always in Asia. Initially, I set up what was probably one of the first dedicated Asian offices, for a global funder, in Hong Kong, in 2015. That meant I have probably got some of the longest on-the-ground experience of anyone funding in this part of the world. It also means I have been quite involved in some of the developments of how the industry is accepted in different jurisdictions within the region.

Since that time, I’ve moved down to Singapore, which is where I joined Omni Bridgeway. In terms of my professional experience, I’m Australian and that’s where I got my initial qualification, but I’m also qualified in the UK. I’ve lived and worked in five other countries. I’ve also practiced in France, for example. I have had some experience of civil law, as well as common law jurisdictions. During that time, I was mainly working in private practice, with top tier international firms. For example, I stared my career with Coudert Brothers, which is a firm that doesn’t exist anymore, but was a very well-regarded international firm, at that point. I worked with them in Sydney and Paris. I also worked with Orrick and Dechert, also in Paris, and then moved to Debevoise in London. That was all before moving out here, to Asia, about eight years ago, where I also had the opportunity to gain experience of how institutions manage arbitral proceedings. I ran the arbitration team at the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, for a number of years, so gained particular experience into that side of how arbitrations are managed and run.

How would you describe a core litigation case?

Effectively, a litigation case involves disputing parties. They might be single parties, in opposition, or they might be groups of parties. That might be in the litigation context itself, which is a public forum, so in courts. In might be in a private dispute resolution context, which is arbitration. It might be in an insolvency context, where you have got insolvency practitioners, creditors and others involved. There is really a whole range of scenarios in which you would have litigation or arbitration cases arise.

In terms of what value we add and how we become involved – in the past, typically, funding was developed as an access to justice type tool, so for parties to a dispute who couldn’t afford to bring their proceedings. Often, that might have been in the insolvency context or simply people who, through various circumstances, had been forced into a position where they didn’t have the money to bring their claim. They would look for a funder to allow them to pursue their claim and, hopefully, ultimately recover.

What has developed in the industry since then and which I think is the major value proposition that we have now, is that third-party funding represents a cash management and risk allocation tool for companies, whether they have the money to pursue their proceedings or not. That is not necessarily the central question. Really, what they are thinking about is their business strategy. Do they want to spend their balance sheet on these proceedings and what will they have to spend to pursue their claims? Normally, that would be juxtaposed with, do they want to spend that on their business?

Now, what they can do is, they can use our finance for the legal claims and use their own money for their business. In some circumstances, they can even get working capital from us, to invest in their core business operations while, at the same time, being able to pursue their case.

How do you originate cases?

It’s a very relationship-driven industry. Typically, cases come to us in three ways. They might come from clients directly. For example, if a company has been involved in a dispute before, where funding has been used, they might know to come to us directly. If they are more sophisticated and funding is something that they are aware of, they will simply pick up the phone, tell us they have a dispute and we’ll take it from there. Other circumstances might be that they have gone to their lawyers and they are discussing their prospects and how they might wish to take forward their case and the lawyer might suggest that they consider funding, either because the case is one where they might not wish to invest the money in the case, so it would not go forward without a funder, or it might be just as an alternative or different way to manage the financial arrangements in that case. The lawyers might then suggest that they approach us. Finally, other professional advisors, other types of experts, might be looking at cases and, also, might suggest that the case is one that is suitable for funding.

In all of those circumstances, we would then commence our due diligence process and run through that, in looking at the particular case.

How are the cases different, directly from a corporate and a law firm?

Generally, there may or may not be any difference. Whether it comes from a client or through the law firm, largely depends on the level of education, of either party, about funding. It is not necessarily the case that a different type of case would come through each route.

The size and types of case are similar?

We do get a lot of enquiries. On average, per month, we might be seeing 40 or 50 enquiries from those that are interested in funding. Often, ones that come from individuals or companies directly, may not necessarily be suitable for funding, because they might be too small or they may not have a developed position yet, such that we can really assess them. Typically, if a case comes to us through a law firm because, generally, at this stage, they have a higher understanding of what a funder might be looking for there has, necessarily, been a filtering process, which means the case may be more suitable for funding.

That is not necessarily always the case. For example, one of my current funded cases came to us directly from a client. They are based in Moscow and India and they didn’t have lawyers involved. They came to us. We have introduced them to lawyers and the case is now proceeding, with our funding.

Do Omni Bridgeway or any other larger players have an advantage, in any way, to originate deals that other smaller competitors wouldn’t be able to?

The underlying premise for any litigation or dispute that we would get involved with means that there has to be an underlying legal claim in existence. We can’t originate any kind of investment unless there is that underlying claim. No funder versus another can change that.

In a general commercial claim, it could be the case that, because of the expertise that we have, as investment managers, we can speak to clients, understand their situation and be able to see that they have a claim. Others, who don’t have that particular experience, might not appreciate that. Having said that, what we would then do is suggest that they get advice from lawyers, from a legal team. We could introduce them to someone or, if they already had an existing set of advisors, they could use them. It’s not really our job to put the case together for them; they need to do that with their lawyers. But we might point them in the direction of suggesting that they had a good claim that they might want to consider further.

All of our investment managers have years of experience in-house, in private practice, in various contexts, so we might see opportunities that others might not.

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Omni Bridgeway: Leading Litigation Finance

November 19, 2020

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