Capital markets: Litigation funding finds its feet
Litigation funding has surged in recent years. The asset class is catnip to yield-hungry investors, with funders expanding from their roots in Australia and the UK to tap new markets from Germany to Brazil and the US.
Nick Rowles-Davies has been called a few things in his career, but the one that comes directly to mind involves a throwaway line by a member of the Fourth Estate.
“I was once described by a journalist as being a ‘pinstriped ambulance chaser’,” he says. “I took exception to that. I have never owned a pinstriped suit.”
The choice of insult makes sense once you know what he does. Rowles-Davies, a cheery Englishman, is the executive vice-chairman of Sydney-based LCM Finance, one of the world’s oldest litigation finance companies.
Also known as litigation funding, it is an uncorrelated asset class that’s been around for a few decades, growing at a steady pace without ever quite catching fire. But given what it offers – outsized returns at a time of super-low yields on judiciously placed investments – is this its moment in the sun?
At its heart, litigation finance is the process of investing in or buying up – both terms work just as well – outstanding legal claims, then working to profit from them through settlement out of court or adjudication in it. Hence the ‘ambulance chaser’ jibe.