💰️ Taking the ‘Fun’ out of ‘Litigation Funding’
In today’s email:
Interest rates go up (shock!)
Are fast food ads lying to you?
Watch TV from your childhood
Litigation funders aren’t having fun
AstraZeneca gets a new pair of genes
The most addictive game on the internet
Jones Day and Freshfields build the train of the future
Facebook gets caught stealing data from its users, again
Magic Circle revenues go up but they’re making less money
… and more!
EDITOR’S RAMBLE 🗣
I saw this tweet about a class action false advertising lawsuit in New York against Taco Bell (you can read the actual complaint that was filed here).
Taco Bell was sued today in a false advertising class action.
Consumers allege that Taco Bell misrepresents the amount of beef in the Crunchwrap Supreme "by at least double the amount."
— Rob Freund (@RobertFreundLaw)
Jul 31, 2023
The claim is that Taco Bell advertise that their food will look like this 👇️ 😋
But it ends up looking like this 👇️ 🤯
So, what do you think?…
Are these sorts of differences just to be expected when buying from fast food places like Taco Bell, which are moving fast to sell a lot of volume?
Or is this actually false advertising?
Is Taco Bell guilty of false advertising?
Once you've voted, you can share your reasons too!
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FEATURED REPORT 📰
💰️ Taking the ‘Fun’ out of ‘Litigation Funding’
What’s going on here?
Litigation funders are companies that pay the claimant’s costs in a lawsuit in exchange for a share of any payout from the case.
This week, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that the agreements litigation funding companies are using with their clients are unenforceable.
So, that basically pulls the rug from underneath all these litigation funders and all the people who were relying on them to fund their case.
What do litigation funders do?
Litigation funders are companies that pay the costs for of a legal case in exchange for a share of any money won in the case.
What’s in it for the funders? The funders will hear out a case and if they think it’s got a strong chance of a big payout, they’ll pay for top lawyers to help out. If the case is won, they’ll get a portion of the payout.
What’s in it for the recipient? Well, they’ll get you better lawyers than you could probably afford yourself. Also, they make the whole thing less risky because you don’t pay them back if you lose.
What’s the Supreme Court’s beef?
Say you’re an English lawyers and you’re helping someone with a case. You agree that your fee will be a percentage of the amount that you win for them. That’s called a damages-based agreements (or DBA).
DBAs need to satisfy certain strict conditions (if you want to nerd out by reading the relevant section of the Act, here you go!).
The Court said that all the agreements that litigation funders have in place with their clients are considered DBAs.
The issue is most of these agreements that the litigation funders use do not satisfy the DBA requirements — so they’re unenforceable.
What are the lawyers saying?
🗣️ Alice Darling (senior associate at Clifford Chance): “Litigation funding has become increasingly prevalent in recent years across all industries and types of claims, and this decision has rendered many funding agreements currently in place unenforceable.”
🗣️ Tim West (commercial litigation partner at Ashurst): “[Litigation funders will need to] move quickly to review and potentially replace their funding arrangements and ensure they are in an acceptable form. Otherwise, there is a risk their action could be dismissed as existing claims will not be immune from today’s decision”.
🗣️ Glenn Newberry (head of costs and litigation funding at Eversheds Sutherland): “[The decision] will send shockwaves through the funding industry and may lead to number of smaller operators going out of business”.
What’s the big picture effect?
For litigation funders: Most of their agreements with their clients are unenforceable. So, funders need to act fast to solve this issue in one of two ways:
Sign new agreements that do tick all the DBA requirements, or
Get creative with their agreements so the payout that the funder receives isn’t related to damages (for example, by agreeing to receive a multiple of the amount invested instead).
Both of these routes will mean that existing claims where litigation funders are involved are going to be delayed, which means courts are going to be delayed — that’s why some people think the Supreme Court has kind-of shot itself in the foot with this decision.
For me and you: Generally, litigation funders back class action claims against big corporations that have been acting badly. They don’t do this out of kindness - they do this cause it gives them most money. BUT, fewer litigation funders = more freedom for corporations to act badly (at least in theory).
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IN OTHER NEWS 🗞
🪄 London's Magic Circle law firms are feeling the pinch as they try to expand into the US market. Despite rising revenues, profits are falling due to higher staff costs and reduced demand, especially as the M&A boom from 2021 slows down. Big moves like Allen & Overy's planned $3.4bn merger with Shearman & Sterling, and Freshfields' new offices in the States, are part of a critical effort to increase their market share in the US, where they currently generate only about 15% of their revenue.
🇦🇺 An Australian court has imposed a fine of A$20m (£10.4m) on Facebook and its parent company Meta for not telling its users about its data collection sharing practices. Meta created a free VPN app called Onavo Protect which claimed to keep users’ data safe. The app, which was downloaded by over 270,000 Australian users, actually shared data with Facebook for business intelligence purposes. The court found that the app store descriptions of Onavo Protect were misleading, which led to the fine.
🚄 Renault Group and Geely, advised by Jones Day and Freshfields, have inked a 50/50 joint venture deal to establish a leading powertrain technology company. The new company will focus on creating hybrid and highly efficient powertrain solutions to meet global demand. The joint venture aims to manufacture a bunch of internal combustion, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid engines and transmissions. Jones Day and Freshfields both made announcements about deal.
💊 AstraZeneca, advised by US law firm Covington & Burling, is making a $1bn purchase of a gene therapy business from Pfizer. AstraZeneca will buy Pfizer's early-stage gene therapy projects for rare diseases for up to $1bn. As part of the deal, AstraZeneca will take on some Pfizer employees who worked on these projects. It’ll also pay Pfizer for any successful therapies it sells from this deal in the future. Here’s the law firm’s announcement about the transaction.
🇪🇺 The European Central Bank (ECB) delivered its ninth consecutive rate hike. The ECB went ahead with its widely expected quarter-point rate hike last week. That took the central bank’s deposit rate up to 3.75%, matching a record last reached in 2001 — that was when it was trying to prop up the value of the newly launched euro. A few months back, we covered the impact of interest rate rises.
AROUND THE WEB 🌐
📺️ Cool: If you’ve got some time to kill, and want to unlock a load of core memories, watch actual TV from the 90s (and every decade all the way back until the 50s).
💻️ Fun: I think this might actually be the most addicting online game I’ve played in years (although, the voice when you complete a round is… kinda weird? If you’re at work, probably best to mute it).
🗞️ News: Let’s just admit it… the news takes too long to read. The Bay Area Times solves that by covering business and tech news with visuals, not words. Fewer words and sentences, more charts and images. Check out the Bay Area Times.*
* This is sponsored content
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