First third-party funding for S'pore arbitration case

Leading global finance firm Burford Capital is funding a party involved in an arbitration case in Singapore, the first since new laws kicked in about three months ago that allow third-party financing in international commercial arbitration.

Burford's London-based managing director Craig Arnott on Thursday said "we are thrilled to be financing the first arbitration matter under the new Singaporean regime and look forward to continuing to expand our Asian business".

International law firm Norton Rose Fulbright is working on the arbitration case that Burford has agreed to finance.

Third-party funding allows a claim to be financed by a funder with no links to the dispute.

The litigant uses the funds to meet the costs of the dispute and if he wins, the funder gets a cut of the sum awarded or alternative arrangements depending on the structure agreed.

Third-party funding is allowed in the leading global arbitration centres of London, New York and Geneva. Singapore's move to change the laws to similarly allow this helps shore up its place in the top five most preferred international arbitration centres in the world.

Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah had said in Parliament last January that third-party funding "will offer businesses an additional financing and risk management tool when engaged in the relevant categories of proceedings. This includes the financing of valid claims which they may otherwise not pursue due to financial constraints".

She noted that businesses seeking such funding will have to undergo a rigorous process of claim assessment by the funder.

Burford Capital is a finance firm focused on law and its businesses include litigation finance and risk management, asset recovery and a wide range of legal finance and advisory activities.

Burford is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange, and it works with law firms and clients around the world from its principal offices in New York, London and Chicago.

Besides Burford, other international funders with an interest in Singapore include Harbour Litigation Funding, IMF Bentham and Omni Bridgeway.

Hong Kong-based director of litigation funding at Harbour Litigation Funding Ruth Stackpool-Moore said the funder has received numerous inquiries in relation to arbitration in Singapore and is also looking into setting up an office here.

She added that the firm looks at minimum claims of about £10 million ($17.9 million) for third-party funding consideration.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2017, with the headline 'First third-party funding for S'pore arbitration case'. Print Edition | Subscribe