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HFW, Solomonic Research: English Courts Rebound Following COVID-19 Slump

9 June 2020

Research by international law firm HFW and litigation analytics company Solomonic has revealed that English Courts activity has recovered to pre-Covid-19 levels following a sharp slump during the height of the outbreak.

At least 70 new claims were filed in the English Courts in each of the last three weeks of May, according to Solomonic data, having previously fallen below 30 new claims per week in March – a drop of 56% on the previous year.

The English Courts are now slightly busier than they were at this point in 2019 (61 new claims per week on average) and 2018 (63 new claims per week on average).

Source: Solomonic and HFW
Source: Solomonic and HFW

HFW disputes experts say that this is a sign of confidence beginning to return to the market, and that Covid-19 will ultimately result in a surge of litigation and arbitration.

Damian Honey, Dispute Resolution Partner, HFW:

“Events of severe market shock are always followed by a lull in disputes activity, as businesses are focused on survival – not entering into potentially expensive litigation. We saw that with the global financial crisis in 2008 and we’ve seen it again with Covid-19.

“The current uptick in claims being filed in the English Courts suggests that the market is now coming out of that initial crisis stage. Businesses are starting to look ahead more confidently and consider issuing proceedings – particularly in relation to contractual issues that have arisen due to the outbreak.

“The high levels of market uncertainty mean that disputes activity could remain patchy over the coming months, but we ultimately expect the market consequences of Covid-19 to result in a surge of litigation and arbitration.”

HFW experts also believe that the continued rise of litigation funding could help fuel a surge in disputes activity following Covid-19.

Adam Strong, HFW Litigation Funding Committee Chair:

“Businesses are understandably very focused on cash flow, costs and risk at the moment, so the ability to use third-party funding to not only de-risk litigation but also to completely remove legal fees from their balance sheets is extremely attractive. We’re already seeing a lot of interest from clients in litigation finance and we expect that continue.”

HFW has one of the most active disputes practices in the market, covering litigation, international arbitration and alternative forms of dispute resolution. The firm has more than 350 specialist disputes lawyers across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, handling high-value, complex, multi-party and multi-jurisdictional disputes, including fraud and asset recovery, insolvency, class actions, and enforcement actions.

The firm’s dedicated Litigation Funding Committee offers guidance and support to clients on the use funding to cover costs and reduce or eliminate exposure to counterparty costs. HFW works with all of the leading third-party funders, and has a £25 million portfolio litigation funding facility with Augusta Ventures, which offers the firm’s clients expedited access to funding at competitive rates.

Gideon Cohen, Co-Founder, Solomonic:

“Solomonic data shows that commercial dispute activity is returning to pre-Covid levels; by tracking it very closely we are equipping litigators and their clients with the very latest market intelligence at a time when litigation strategy will be crucial.”

HFW entered into a development partnership with Solmonic in July 2019.

About Solomomic

Solomonic is a litigation intelligence and analytics start-up dedicated to bringing a data-led approach to litigation intelligence and decision-making. Built in collaboration with litigation lawyers, it helps users stay on top of litigation activity, place their advice in statistical context, pick out arguments which have succeeded in the past and carry out research on lawyers and expert witnesses.

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