Augusta Ventures – the unique litigation funder targeted at the SME market – is planning to quadruple its caseload in 2015 after investing over £8m in 36 cases during its first year of operation.
Among the firms whose clients have already used Augusta’s Trinity product to progress their litigation are Bond Dickinson, Burges Salmon, Fox Williams, Gordon Dadds, Hill Dickinson, JMW, Keystone Law, Stephenson Harwood, Stephensons, Squire Patton Boggs, Harcus Sinclair and Ward Hadaway.
Augusta now has in excess of £60m to invest as it bids to bring litigation funding into the mainstream, and is planning to increase the number of cases it handles during 2015 from three a month to 12. It is backed by private funds, a Canadian family office and Metric Capital Partners, a pan-European private capital fund manager whose partners include former Clifford Chance managing partner Peter Cornell.
Augusta’s shareholders include David Cheyne, former senior partner of Linklaters, and Martyn Bowes, ex-head of real estate financing at Barclays. It has also formed an eminent case review panel led by former head of dispute resolution at Speechly Bircham, Stephen Dobson, and comprising former High Court Judge, Sir Raymond Jack QC, Baker & McKenzie’s former Global Dispute Resolution head, Nick Pearson, and barrister Richard Davis of Hogarth Chambers.
While other funders focus on a handful of multi-million pound investments in big cases, Augusta invests between £10,000 and £600,000 in a broad range of largely commercial litigation matters. Of the two cases that have so far concluded – both through mediated settlements – one was a shareholder dispute and the other a contested probate matter. The claimants in both could not have brought their cases without funding.
As part of the company’s commitment to an unrivalled level of transparency, the details of how the financials worked in these cases are set out in the Notes to Editors.
Managing director Louis Young says an increasing number of law firms are now seeing litigation funding as an underwriter of revenue and business growth: “The success of our first year has shown the demand among claimants for funding, whether because they cannot otherwise afford to seek justice or because they want to significantly reduce the risks inherent in the process.
“Just as encouraging has been the growing realisation among solicitors that funding is not just for those with insufficient funds to run their claim. By introducing financing to all their clients, lawyers are generating new work, as well as retaining matters that would otherwise have disappeared out the door. Our financing improves profits and reduces risk for the firm.
“We have now proven our model and are established as a transparent, knowledgeable and responsive partner to claimants and solicitors alike.”
David Gore, consultant at Gordon Dadds, who has worked with Augusta to fund cases, says: “Augusta have realised that not all worthwhile cases are multi-million pound actions. They’re offering a long-overdue life-line to those without the funds to bring strong cases. Clients have really bought into their funding product, and the highly competitive insurance package that goes with it, because it sets a limit on their exposure if their case is unsuccessful and is clear about their return if they win. For our firm it enables us to take cases on behalf of clients who otherwise may not have chosen to litigate, while for clients it reduces the impact on their cash flow and accounts.”