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Business and legal finance: Responding to the Chamber’s letter to the Rules Committee

On January 31, Brackett Denniston III, Chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee, sent a letter to the Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure advocating for a change to the federal rules concerning disclosure of litigation finance.

Nothing is substantively new about the tactic or the argument. The Chamber has tried multiple times to push through a change in the federal rules— and failed, because the United States has clear and robust litigation disclosure rules that have worked well for many decades. No change is merited.

This is made clear in a February 20 letter sent by Burford and two other funders to the Advisory Committee (read the joint letter in full here).

What has changed with the January 31 letter is the Chambers’s strategy of enlisting several in-house counsel to sign on to its letter—and cynically attempting to create the false impression that the world of business and the business of legal finance are somehow at odds. That is simply untrue.

In a separate letter to the Advisory Committee sent by Christopher Bogart, Burford’s CEO (read the full letter from Christopher Bogart here), he notes:

“When I co-founded Burford ten years ago, it was… in response to corporate demand, not in an attempt to stimulate that demand.  Indeed…. a number of the companies who signed the January 31 letter are clients of ours, and several signatories of the letter have personally discussed the use of litigation finance with me.  A notable example is a lengthy and pleasant meeting I had in 2015 with Brackett Denniston when he was GE’s General Counsel. Moreover, in the few weeks since the letter was sent to you, one of its signatories has in fact approached Burford seeking litigation financing.”

Burford regularly helps companies use its finance to achieve better business results. Despite the Chamber’s attempt to create the appearance of opposition, we are and will continue to be a proud partner to these and other clients.