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Burford Capital ready to capture Asia's arbitration funding market

October 22, 2019

Chief executive Christopher Bogart talks about the excitement and challenges of the Asia market and the firm's plans for Singapore and Hong Kong.

It has been a game-changing year for litigation funding in Asia. The region’s two dispute resolution centers—Singapore and Hong Kong—both passed legislation permitting third-party funding for arbitration cases, a move that is prompting global legal financiers to aggressively seize new opportunities.

In early October, New York-based Burford Capital announced the opening of a Singapore office. And in July, the firm took on its first international arbitration case in Singapore, working alongside Norton Rose Fulbright.

“When Singapore changed its law earlier this year, it was quite a significant development,” Burford chief executive Christopher Bogart said.

In other jurisdictions, clients have had multiple ways to offload risk, whether it be to their lawyers or to third parties. But until the change in the law, contingent or conditional fee arrangements were not permitted in Hong Kong and Singapore.

“The [new law] opened the door to providing capital to clients and to law firms in a way that has never been done before in the region,” Bogart said.

Demand for third-party dispute resolution funding was already strong in both markets, according to Bogart. Lawyers, judges and clients recognize that dispute resolution has become very expensive.

“But the quantity of it is increasing, and demands on capital in other areas is also increasing,” Bogart said. “That creates an environment in which lots of businesses would like a solution other than just writing checks to their lawyers.”

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