HFW's Brian Perrott: 'Having Augusta on board will therefore be of great comfort to parties when they are dealing with problems caused by the pandemic'
HFW has teamed up with Big Four accountant KPMG and litigation funder Augusta Ventures to offer clients a fast track Covid-19 dispute funding service.
While non-exclusive – each party retaining the right to work with other stakeholders – the service seeks to capitalise on the burgeoning market for Covid-19 dispute resolution by providing clients with a one-stop shop.
Augusta will supply the financial muscle, should it be required, while HFW and KPMG will dovetail their services, providing legal advice, forensic accountancy and crucially for the client — and Augusta — asset tracking and enforcement measures.
The offering is clearly targeted at initial investigations to establish the merits of a claim and mirrors similar services provided by rival litigation funders including Litigation Capital Management and Vannin Capital.
HFW partner Brian Perrott said he expected countless disputes to arise given the scale of the Covid-19 disruption.
“Having Augusta on board will therefore be of great comfort to parties when they are dealing with problems caused by the pandemic that are unforeseen and for which there is no time to make any cash provision to fund the matter,” he added.
David Standish of KPMG stressed his firm’s expertise, noting it was able to recover losses work quickly. “No claim need be delayed because of problems around financing the work,” he said.
Robert Hanna, Augusta’s managing director, said the move provided “a seamless, low-risk litigation process for claimants seeking to recover funds”.
HFW’s offering is not unique; in April, commercial claimant firm Hausfeld offered up to £1m of its lawyers’ time to investigate sizeable commercial claims arising out of the pandemic for potential clients.
However, HFW has a strong track record working with Augusta, having announced a joint £25m portfolio litigation funding facility in December 2019.
That facility was also non-exclusive, offering HFW clients expedited access to funding at competitive rates, assessed by a joint committee, with pump-priming funding for initial assessment of up to £30,000 available.
Norton Rose Fulbright announced its own product, NRF Covid Resolve, an online ADR-based initiative, in June, aimed at swiftly resolving disputes, following similar moves by chambers including Serle Court.
A joint venture between mediation giant CEDR and the Chartered Institute of Arbitration was also announced in June, bringing together two well-known names. Both initiatives are aimed at streamlining disputes, which face lengthy delays in the courts due to the Covid-19 backlog.
The UK government recently announced £100m of investment to help the civil courts to address the backlog, although the Law Society says further funding is needed.