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How Cessna Finance turned arbitration awards into cash

  • Asset recovery
  • International arbitration


Cessna Finance Corporation
Award assignment
International arbitration

Cessna Finance Corporation, a global aviation finance company, had two outstanding and unenforced arbitration awards that arose when counterparties defaulted on aircraft leasing agreements. But despite their cumulative value of more than $100 million, the awards remained unpaid and with no immediate prospect of cash recoveries, as the judgment debtors were well-connected Emiratis with the majority of their assets in the UAE who refused to pay.

Faced with the prospect of spending years pursuing complex, high-cost and risky enforcement proceedings across multiple jurisdictions, CFC reached out to Burford. Burford solved this challenge with a hybrid “money now, money later” assignment deal that gave CFC immediate capital and transferred the cost, time and risk of the enforcement campaign to Burford while retaining for CFC a back-end interest to ensure a further significant payment in the event of a successful recovery.

Following the assignment, Burford took on total responsibility for the multi-jurisdictional enforcement, including appointing and managing lawyers and asset tracing and paying all enforcement costs. The Burford team updated CFC on developments while removing all costs any distraction from CFC’s core business. The complex enforcement strategy involved proceedings in New York, London and the UAE, and has so far resulted in debtors settling one of the two awards for $50 million. 

Burford gave us the ability to recover funds against the outstanding balance of our awards, while at the same time outsourcing the responsibility for managing the enforcement process to an expert team. The structure allowed us to have the best of both worlds. Over the past few years, we have been able to rely upon the updates from the case team at Burford and have not had to deploy significant managerial time to what has clearly been a labor-intensive dispute. Lastly, and most importantly, the outcome has resulted in the business recovering a large portion of the underlying obligation. I would recommend that any company which has outstanding judgments or awards in its favor that it does not have the expertise to pursue consider a conversation with Burford.”