AIM-listed litigation finance company Burford Capital has finally activated its alternative business structure (ABS) after hiring a solicitor to act in judgment enforcement matters.
Burford Law was licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in January 2016 but will now start operating after the company hired litigator Tom Evans as its head. He was previously been of counsel at US firm Akin Gump.
Burford – the world’s largest listed litigation funding business – entered the asset tracing and judgment enforcement market a year earlier by acquired Focus Intelligence.
Burford Capital chief executive Christopher Bogart said: “Tom has extensive multi-jurisdictional experience and will act as a solicitor in judgment enforcement matters, working closely with Burford’s busy and growing judgment enforcement team.”
He explained that Mr Evans was available to clients needing financing or enforcement services from Burford, and other services, to act as their solicitor in English matters, and to assist as a legal adviser when other jurisdictions were involved.
Mr Bogart said: “Moreover, Burford Law will offer its services on either a cash-pay or full conditional fee agreement basis to clients, at their option. We’re confident that Tom’s capacity to work in conjunction with Buford enforcement specialists and international local counsel will make for a faster, more seamless and generally happier outcome for clients.”
However, this might only be the start of what the ABS will do. Its annual report earlier this year said: “Through this vehicle, Burford can both operate its own law firm and take equity interests in other law firms. This is an early step for Burford to expand the ways in which it can provide capital to law firms and the benefits of external capital to clients.”
The report explained how Burford was evolving in line with the legal market’s changing attitude towards outside capital. From having originally just funded individual cases, only 13% of its new investments in 2015 were single matters, with the rest “a variety of other forms of capital provision to the legal market”.
“This transmutation is very significant, as it expands our potential market dramatically while enabling us to reduce volatility and retain our historical return profile,” it said.
This included providing $100m in capital for an unnamed global law firm, in its largest transaction ever.