Companies spend valuable time and resources pursuing litigation and arbitration claims, only to find that winning a judgment or award is often only the first step in the process and that enforcement will take even longer and cost even more money. This can lead to many companies leaving money on the table rather than pursue a costly enforcement process. In fact, in 2020 70% of in-house lawyers reported that their companies have unenforced judgments valued at $20 million or more.
Some legal finance providers like Burford provide a combination of financing and asset recovery expertise to help judgment creditors find and monetize their hard-won judgments and awards. Although the case study below details Burford’s multi-jurisdictional enforcement of a final and unappealable English High Court judgment and is illustrative of the challenges that companies with unenforced judgments often face.
Multi-jurisdictional enforcement and Burford’s role in recovering the judgment debt
Burford financed the enforcement of a final and unappealable judgment against the worldwide assets of a well-heeled defendant as well as other judgment debtors and alleged third party beneficiaries.
When a claimant is faced with a recalcitrant debtor, as here, the strategy is to locate and freeze assets and otherwise put pressure on the debtor’s affairs until the debtor comes to the table and satisfies the judgment. Burford’s in-house asset recovery team leads efforts like these. Our expertise comes into play with the execution of that strategy because debtors, who are already violating court orders by not paying the judgment, try to move their assets around to stay ahead of traditional efforts to enforce, which requires a sophisticated transnational approach.
Multiple routes to recovery in ten jurisdictions were pursued by Burford’s asset recovery team, including the pursuits of assets globally such as high-value art, a plane, a helicopter, and a yacht. The case included multiple contested discovery actions (including against a leading internet service provider), a search order and a three-week trial in England under s.423 of the insolvency act in order to bring action directly against accomplices involved in the evasion of the judgment.
Companies very often face very similar enforcement challenges when it comes to realizing judgments and awards. When considering engaging asset recovery specialists, it’s essential to choose a team that can effectively trace assets across difficult jurisdictions and use information to realize the full potential of the 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 contingent basis or by purchasing judgments outright.