Betfair founder revealed as principal investor in new ABS

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17 January 2013


Briggs: not standing still

The millionaire co-founder of Betfair – the world’s largest betting exchange – is the principal investor behind new alternative business structure (ABS) Brilliant Law, it has emerged.

Brilliant Law said it is the UK’s first law firm set up by non-lawyers, a team “renowned for challenging the markets within which they operate”. It received its ABS licence late last month.

According to Brilliant Law chief executive Matthew Briggs, Betfair’s Bert Black brings experience of successfully disrupting the gaming market, along with marketing expertise and connections. The Sunday Times Rich List gives Mr Black a fortune of £110m.

Mr Briggs, who held the same role at Minster Law and took it into the top 50 law firms, also recently became involved in legal comparison site Wigster.

Brilliant’s other investors are its chairman, Jeremy Fenn, who as chief executive of Sports Internet Group plc in 2001 sold the company for £301m to BSkyB, and has since founded and invested in a succession of enterprises within the technology, media and telecoms sectors; and John Swingewood, a one-time director of new media at BSkyB and chairman or director of five other companies at present.

In a statement Brilliant Law said Mr Black “will consolidate Matthew and Jeremy’s entrepreneurial and management expertise”.

The firm’s aim is to act as a legal ‘best friend’ offering fixed-fee legal services to businesses and consumers. The initial focus is on corporate work, with a series of fixed-price packages for start-ups and SMEs in addition to a ‘pay as you go’ menu of fixed-price ad hoc services, along with downloadable legal documents.

Though not a core service, it also offers consultancy to help would-be ABSs make their licensing applications.

Mr Briggs told Legal Futures that Brilliant Law currently has 11 staff and he expects to have as many as 400 in three years’ time. “I didn’t stand still at Minster Law and I don’t intend to stand still at Brilliant Law,” he said. Though the Internet will be a “key route to market”, Mr Briggs said the firm will explore all marketing options, and has recruited the marketing director of webuyanycars.com to lead this work.

He argued that in a market with a reputation for being expensive, “clunky”, full of jargon and not transparent over fees, firms like Brilliant Law can “slowly change how legal services are procured, delivered and paid for”.

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