Sean Upson participated in a roundtable discussion entitled, “The disputes funding debate: The value of everything” for the Legal Business Disputes Yearbook 2018. The panel featured a number of private practice litigators, in-house counsel and litigation funders, and discussed the value litigation can bring to a corporate.

The discussion focused on how litigation finance is perceived and considered issues such as costs pressures, monetising litigation and which types of companies are most likely to use litigation funding.

Sean participated as follows:

Disputes Yearbook (DY): Are corporates acting as claimants more? Is there a driver to use litigation as a way of generating revenue for the business and adding value?

Sean Upson (SU): “We talk to a lot of corporates and the answer that comes back is that budget is largely used for ‘defensive purposes’. However, if you then go along and say, ‘Here is a cartel claim’ or, ‘Here is a claim you may not have thought about but here is a funder who is willing to fund it and take it off your balance sheet’, it then becomes an opportunity.”

DY: Do you think there is a fundamental issue with CFOs and boards viewing the in-house legal function as a cost so monetising legal work is anathema?

SU: “There are sectoral and cultural differences. We are looking at financial services and markets act claims at the moment and the difference in awareness of the funding market is interesting. When you go and talk to the American or German and the Australian funds they get it. If you speak to English or Scottish funds there is a lower level of awareness and the question is: ‘How does this work?’”

DY: Is there a particular type of client that it is more attractive to?

SU: “The low take-up is partly that Magic Circle firms and a lot of firms look at funding and think: ‘It is almost like the dark arts. We do not deal with CFAs. We do not understand ATE [after-the-event insurance].’ It does not have to be complicated. It can be a simple offering.”

The panellists

  • Sean Upson, Stewarts
  • Craig Arnott, Burford Capital
  • Richard Blann, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Philipp Leibfried, Burford Capital
  • Angus McBride, News UK
  • Matthew Redding, EE
  • Ned Staple, ZPG
  • Tom Baker, Legal Business
  • Mark McAteer, Legal Business
  • Tim Brown, RPC
  • Louis Flannery QC, Stephenson Harwood
  • Guy Harvey, Shepherd and Wedderburn
  • Hamish Lal, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld


This article first appeared in the Legal Business Disputes Yearbook. Please click here to view the full article.



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