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Asset recovery Q&A

October 11, 2019
Daniel Hall & Michael Redman

What is asset recovery?

Essentially, we monetize legal paper. We help clients jump over the factual and legal hurdles that stand in the way of them recovering money once a judgment or award in their favor has been made, but the opponent hides assets or simply fails to pay.

How does asset recovery work?

No two cases are exactly alike, but we typically do a combination of record retrieval and analysis. We’ve got to find the people who know the answers to our clients’ questions, then find a way to talk to them. And of course that has to happen in a manner that’s legally admissible.

Who are the typical clients for your services?

We’ve worked for countries, state-owned enterprises, listed and private companies, law firms and individuals. We’ve worked all over the world, including many far-flung and “difficult” jurisdictions.

Why do companies simply give up on non-recovered judgments?

After enduring a protracted legal battle, a client may be unwilling or unable to pursue the equally sapping and expensive process of chasing a debt. In many cases it may feel easier to walk away. It’s entirely understandable, but it can leave clients with enormous unrealized assets. There are billions of dollars left on the table.

What are some of the greatest challenges for parties facing recalcitrant debtors?

If your counterparty decides not to pay, the challenges can be huge. Not only does the “hider” always have an advantage over the “seeker”, but also the odds and financial balance are stacked against the judgment creditor on almost every level. As the creditor, you have to play by the rules when the other party doesn’t. That is why there is such a tremendous demand for expert capability in asset tracing and judgment enforcement.

What should clients or firms look for in a partner?

What’s ideal is a partner that can help you not only trace assets but also help you use that information to realize the full potential of your legal judgment. Even better is a partner that can provide a variety of financing models for that offering, as Burford can, in providing asset recovery on a fee-for-service or contingent basis, as well as purchasing judgments outright.

What are some of the most unusual assets you’ve recovered?

A few that come to mind are polo horses in Argentina, a yacht in dock in Monaco, a web domain in California and a parking space in London.