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HFW, Solomonic Research Reveals Dramatic Impact Of Covid-19 On English Courts

8 April 2020

Research by international law firm HFW and litigation analytics company Solomonic has revealed a dramatic slump in English Courts activity following the Covid-19 outbreak.

The number of new claims in the English Courts has fallen by 65% over the past four weeks, according to Solomonic data, with just 29 claims filed in the week commencing 30 March – a reduction of 56% compared to the previous year.

HFW experts say that this is just a temporary lull, however, and that Covid-19 will eventually lead to a surge of litigation and arbitration once the situation begins to settle.

Damian Honey, Dispute Resolution Partner, HFW:

“Whenever there is an event that causes severe market stress, there is always a lull in disputes activity before the claims start coming through, as everyone’s immediate priority is taking stock of the situation – particularly in relation to contractual positions – and managing cash flow. When you’re in survival mode, you don’t typically go around commencing what could be expensive litigation.

“We saw the exact same thing happen with the financial crisis in 2008 – the disputes market went really quiet, but that eventually gave way to a surge of litigation and arbitration. We expect the same to happen with Covid-19.”

The continued rise of litigation funding means that the surge in disputes activity could arrive sooner than in 2008.

Adam Strong, HFW Litigation Funding Committee Chair:

“Litigation funding was a fledgling industry in 2008, but it’s now very much in the mainstream – that could have a huge impact. Having access to third-party funding allows claimants to not only de-risk litigation, but also to completely remove the legal fees from their balance sheets. That will prove extremely attractive to many companies at the moment, and could mean that we start seeing Covid-19-related claims coming through sooner than they might otherwise.”

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.

Edward Bird, Managing Director, Solomonic:

“By continuously tracking litigation activity and turning it into data we are able to help organisations and their advisors effectively monitor what we expect to by a very dynamic environment in the coming months.”

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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