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 moreView Profile Page
It’s really a collaboration. We will only fund cases that we think have an experienced legal team running them. The day to day issues, such as the writing of correspondence, the making of submissions, the appearance in court, are all done by the law firm. We don’t do that; we don’t purport to do that. While we have, mostly, all done that in the past, we fully recognize that that is not our day job anymore and it’s not our current experience. All of that expertise has to come with the firm. If we don’t think that they have that, we won’t fund a case, even if we think the merits and the economics are strong.
We think of ourselves as a strategic partner. We are looking to collaborate with the law firm, to provide useful input. Ultimately, we’re not doing the day to day work; we’re not directing how the case is going to unfold. That stays, very much, with the law firm.
From their perspective and what added value we provide, I do think they value the strategic input that we can bring. It’s not necessarily challenging to their expertise; it helps to augment it, so that we have the strongest and best team, going forward. Also from their perspective, I think it can be very helpful, particularly at stages where pleadings might be going to be filed or other steps being taken, because we are not involved in the day to day, we have a slightly more independent birds eye view of the case. When we read pleadings, for example, we’re looking at it more from the way an arbitrator or a judge might look at it. By being a bit less engaged on the day to day, we can take a more global view of what’s being argued or how it is being presented.
I think the dynamic is, ultimately, the same, except that often, the law firm has the added motivation that their recovery is also dependent on success. For us, the working relationship between us and the law firm can be better when all of our interests are aligned. In cases where the law firm is being paid in any case, they might not necessarily assess the merits of the claim or how it’s progressing in quite as critical a manner as they would if it was their own recovery that was also on the line.
Ultimately, it’s the client. We sign the funding agreement with the client and they, obviously, have to agree to the commercial terms. In terms of who the client ends up speaking with, that might be directed by the law firm, in terms of which funders they know or they direct enquiries to. In some jurisdictions, there are brokers who might be approached and who will then approach different funders on behalf of the client or the firm, to try and get a funder involved. There are different ways that the client might end up speaking with different funders, which is jurisdictionally dependent and also relevant to local knowledge.
From a law firm’s perspective, there will be two different scenarios. If they are looking at a client who doesn’t have the funds to pursue the case without a funder, they will be more focused on the client getting finance, full stop, because then the case can proceed and their fees will be paid. Without the funding, the case won’t go ahead and they won’t be paid. If you're looking at a client who is looking for funding for other reasons such as they have the money, but want to spend the money otherwise, they are considering the risk allocation advantages. It depends on the law firm’s level of sophistication and what they understand funding to be, as well. If they appreciate that funding can be much more than just capital, then they would, hopefully, be directing their clients to someone like Omni Bridgeway, who adds so much extra value as well. But if they don’t really have that knowledge, then they might not appreciate that.