Slater and Gordon agree £33m funding deal with Harbour
Leading UK claimant law firm secures significant investment for consumer claims
Slater and Gordon (S&G) has agreed to a £33m facility with litigation funder Harbour in one of the largest deals publicly announced this year.
The facility will be used to develop the UK law firm’s consumer law practice while also funding investment in personal injury and clinical negligence litigation, a key growth area for the firm.
Harbour is increasingly keen to position itself as a law firm financier, developing its remit into providing lending and credit facilities to law firms to enable growth funding. It previously announced funding arrangements for Rothley Law and Bamboo Legal Services, with the latter recently acquiring corporate finance boutique Hawkins Hatton.
That firm is the fifth practice to join the group, a law firm consolidator and market-maker for start-up law brands, thanks to a facility from Harbour. Other law firm facilities offered by Harbour included a deal with City firm, Mishcon de Reya in 2021.
While it is understood that capital is not being directly injected into the business, S&G will draw on the facility to fund its expansion into high-value PI work as the fixed cost regime bites on lower value claims, with the firm focusing instead on severe and life-changing injury cases, including catastrophic loss work, as well as consumer law developments.
However, Harbour will not assess such claims through its investment committee on a case-by-case basis, as with conventional commercial funding.
The news follows the departure of two senior lawyers from S&G to set up Gateley’s class actions practice in July.
Nils Stoesser, S&G’s chief executive officer, said: “We have been looking for a financial partner to help us capitalise on the next stages of the firm’s growth. We are delighted to have Harbour’s support and confidence in our future.”
Elizabeth Comley, the firm’s COO, said the agreed facility would enable the firm to make substantial investments, adding: “We have big growth ambitions for our personal injury, clinical negligence, and other practice areas, where we know we have a competitive advantage. This new facility allows us to realise those ambitions, and in Harbour, we’ve found a natural partner who understands the needs and business of law firm.”
Ellora MacPherson, managing director and chief investment officer at Harbour, said it was “pleased to be supporting Slater and Gordon with this new credit facility. We are excited about their future growth plans reflected by this significant investment.”
The facility replaces previous working capital from VFS Legal, which entered administration last month. According to its website, it had specialised in funding lower-value claims and associated disbursement costs, including for S&G which it described as a “valuable commercial partner”.
S&G, however, said it had not drawn on funding from VFS for some time and that its "day-to-day business” had not been impacted. News of VFS Legal's administration came against the background of uncertainty within the UK litigation funding market following a run of controversial appellate decisions on consumer class actions, including an unfavourable UK Supreme Court ruling