After spending almost eight years in the M&A department of an international law firm in Brussels, Olivia moved to Hong Kong where, since 2018, she has been in charge of Deminor’s activity in the Asia-Pacific region. She assists existing clients in the whole funding process up to recovery, and looks at new opportunities in this expanding litigation-funding market, assessing and reviewing potential funding cases. Olivia is a member of several local associations and frequently organises seminars related to litigation funding in Asia.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about third-party funding?
Litigation funding is frequently seen as a debt towards a funder, where it is in fact an asset. It enables the funded party to file a litigation without taking any financial risks. Payment to the funder only comes in the case of success. During the litigation, the funded party does not have to pay the bills, meaning it can put the money intended to cover the litigation towards the development of its business activities.
What types of cases and parties are currently attracting third-party funding?
Funding is becoming more and more attractive for all types and sizes of enterprises. At Deminor, we decided not to impose minimum thresholds to review a case – so we can also give smaller companies, facing smaller litigation, the opportunity to benefit from funding.
Because companies and individuals in general understand the benefits of funding, we strongly believe it will become a more commonly used tool in the near future.
Considering the recent developments in Asia (especially Hong Kong and Singapore) in favour of funding for arbitration proceedings, many companies/individuals involved in an arbitration are seeking funding. An arbitration generally costs a lot of money and this is why funding is more attractive and more commonly used.
What criteria do you look at when deciding which cases to fund?
From a funder’s perspective a good case is about a good recovery prospect, and the balance between risks taken and the anticipated recovery. We do not have prerequisites when looking at a case; this means we are very open to any type of case and can adapt our financing model to a litigation we believe in.
Deminor is sector-agnostic, so we look at different sectors in many different countries. This is precisely what makes our work so interesting.
In what ways does Deminor Recovery Services distinguish itself from the competition?
Deminor is a funder where team members can talk easily to each other, making our review process efficient and straightforward. Provided we receive accurate information from the client or the law firm, we can close a funding process in four to six weeks. Thanks to that, our clients and their lawyers see our funding as an asset to their litigation, and certainly not as a tool that might delay the process.
As stated, we are also flexible on the types of litigation we look at and on the financial model we propose for a funding.
Our strengths are flexibility, efficiency and – last but not least – transparency. We will always be transparent about our review of a case and are happy to discuss the whole due diligence process with our clients, and the reasons we came to a specific conclusion.
What types of dispute funding are possible in the jurisdictions you focus on?
Deminor has offices all around the world and we review all types of dispute depending on the jurisdiction (USA, Latin America, EMEA, Asia). Considering my specific focus on Asia, and our office in Hong Kong, I currently review a lot of international arbitrations as funding is currently prohibited for commercial disputes in Hong Kong and Singapore.
We also look into bankruptcy/liquidation cases in those markets and speak a lot with liquidators, as we believe funding can be very useful for them – not only to fund a case, but also for the liquidation process as a whole.
In countries such as South Korea, Japan and mainland China, our activities are broader as we can also fund commercial litigation there.
How has the market changed as jurisdictions around the world have increasingly permitted third-party litigation funding?
Funding was previously seen as something to be used by persons in need only: individuals or companies that could not afford litigation. The market, especially in Asia, now understands that it is not about having the money to pay for the litigation; rather, it is about being willing to invest a large amount of money into a litigation, instead of putting it towards the development of your business activities. It’s all about delegating the risks of a litigation to a third party.
With more and more enterprises understanding the advantages of using funding, we expect funding to be a standard part of the litigation process soon, as is already the case in Australia.
What sort of cases do you personally enjoy working on?
As I used to work in the corporate department of a law firm, the cases I enjoy reviewing the most are shareholders’ litigation or post-M&A disputes.
The diversity of my work in reviewing so many different types of cases, and also being involved in the general development of Deminor’s business, means every working day is different and this is what I appreciate the most.
What tips would you give to a lawyer or client looking to bring a claim to a funder for consideration?
Be transparent about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as we will spot them during the review process anyway. Knowing them in advance will make the process much more efficient for everyone.
Also, give as much complete information from the start as possible, so that the due diligence can be quick and funding can be allocated (provided the due diligence is conclusive) in a reasonable time frame.
Finally, never be afraid to submit a case to Deminor for a potential funding. Considering our flexible approach, we look at very different types and sizes of disputes to be funded.