Litigation funding ensures equality of arms in divorce, says George Williamson
It’s not unusual, in the course of people’s lives, for assets that are notionally shared to be held in the name of just one person. In the normal run of things, this isn’t a problem. But there are occasions when that changes.
Consider a divorce. It’s easy to imagine how the scenario described above could create an imbalance in the level of legal representation that each party can afford. But thanks to the growing prevalence of litigation funding, that imbalance doesn’t have to last. The process effectively allows the financially weaker party to receive an advance on their expected settlement, enabling them to instruct appropriate legal representation. This levels the legal playing field, and can empower parties to reach a fair resolution more quickly.
In addition to providing ‘equality of arms’, this type of funding may help to reduce the need for ancillary litigation. When attempting to get their own fees settled, solicitors often get caught up in protracted negotiations with the side that holds the purse strings. And even when these negotiations are successful, they might be subject to further obstructive behaviour from the other side. This can be time-consuming for the solicitor and disproportionately expensive for the client. Litigation funding can cut through the noise, allowing the parties to focus on the heart of the proceedings and reach a cheaper and quicker resolution.
Litigation funding may also deliver further cost savings within the context of interim maintenance during financial remedy proceedings. Certain funders may offer living expense loans to top-up insufficient monthly maintenance, meaning the parties can avoid a disproportionately costly and lengthy court application that would otherwise be required to get to the same result.
Importantly, litigation funding can also remove the need for a solicitor and their client to have potentially difficult conversations about invoices, allowing them to focus on simply resolving the case.
It’s true that litigation funding is not cheap. The interest payable on the sums advanced reflects the risk that funders take on. But if the process saves legal fees, court time, or enhances the value of a client’s net settlement, then it can pay for itself many times over.
George Williamson is CEO of Level, a litigation funding company