The previously-mentioned London asbestos conference included a presentation regarding a new £200 million litigation investment fund that is to come online this fall through an IPO on AIM. The fund seeks to invest in litigation in the US and elsewhere. The presentation seemed to very much surprise some insurance industry personnel attending the conference. Others said they were not surprised,perhaps because the reality is that some insurers have in the past invested in litigation.

The IPO also was covered briefly by the WSJ in its September 29, 2009 edition. The article is here. It states:

By MARGOT PATRICK LONDON — Burford Capital Ltd., a closed-end investment company, said it wants to raise up to £200 million ($319 million) in a share placing on London’s junior market to mark its place in a small but growing sector of funds that help finance companies’ legal costs in commercial disputes.By providing cash to help companies foot their legal costs, Burford said it hopes to pick up a share of any awards or settlements and then pay out money to its shareholders in the form of dividends.

The Guernsey-based company said it will start out by investing in disputes between companies in the U.S., as well as in those going to international arbitration. Later on, it might expand into to other jurisdictions, it said. A typical investment is expected to be for more than $3 million and as high as $15 million.It didn’t say what percentage of proceeds it would ask for, but similar funds take between 20% and 45%.

The company’s investment adviser is Burford Group Ltd., set up by U.S. lawyers Christoper Bogart and Selvyn Seidel.”Third-party commercial-dispute finance is a high-growth market, helping plaintiffs or defendants get civil justice,” Mr. Bogart said in a statement. He said these kinds of investment can generate highly attractive returns that aren’t tied to the performance of stock markets.

Mr. Bogart’s previous jobs include serving as executive vice president and general counsel of Time Warner Inc., and as chief executive of Time Warner Cable Ventures. Mr. Seidel most recently was a senior partner at law firm Latham & Watkins, where he co-founded the New York office and was chairman of the firm’s international practice.

Fox-Pitt, Kelton Ltd. is handling the share placement on the Alternative Investment Market and will be the company’s nominated adviser and broker. Execution Ltd. is acting as co-lead manager on the placement. The shares are expected to start trading around Oct. 16.

A similar company called Juridica Investments Ltd. listed its shares on AIM in December 2007, raising £80 million.

Write to Margot Patrick at margot.patrick@dowjones.com

Caveat/Disclosure: As a result of this prior post on May 24, 2009, I ended up receiving a call from Mr. Seidel to talk about the topic of litigation funding. As indicated in the prior post, it seems plain to me that litigation funding will become a dominant agent for change in litigation over the next decade. So, I invested the time to meet with Mr. Seidel a couple of times. The plans of Mr. Seidel and his colleagues make great sense to me, and I hope to work with them some day if the situation is right.