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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

An Insurance Underwriter’s View: Growing Global Class Actions, Litigation Funding, and the Ha

The growing breadth and depth of global class actions is explored in a September 20, 2016 post at D&O Diary. Riffing off of Professor Coffee’s recent article, Kevin LaCroix pulls together several of his past posts, along with other data and updates, including some interesting observations about class action developments in Asia, as well as Canada and Australia. Beyond pointing out the facts, he includes the following two notable observations:


Coffee’s review of these issues is entirely consistent with my own analysis in several prior blog posts. One particular aspect of Coffee’s discussion that I found particularly apt is his discussion of how all of these things have come together despite what is perhaps an almost universal disdain outside the U.S. for U.S.-style litigation, particularly U.S. class action litigation. I am fortunate to have been able to travel around the world for various professional meetings in recent years. Often I am the only American in the room. I have become quite accustomed to hearing the locals express deep distain for the U.S. litigation model. But what has happened over the years is that slowly but surely despite the disdain for U.S. litigation procedures, many countries have adopted procedural reforms that reflect aspects of U.S. style litigation, even U.S. class action litigation. Often these reforms arise when local investors aggrieved by a corporate scandal push for legislative reform so that they have some procedural mechanism for redress.

Professor Coffee correctly notes that role that entrepreneurial U.S. plaintiffs’ lawyers have played in driving some of these changes and in establishing procedural pathways to be used in pursuing collective investor claims. He also alludes to the role of third-party litigation funding, but in my view the role of third-party litigation funding is even more significant than Coffee’s account suggests. Coffee’s article does not even mention the rise of securities class action litigation in Australia and Canada, the two countries other than the U.S. where class action litigation is most common. In both of those countries, third-party litigation funding has played an indispensable role in the rise of class action litigation (and U.S. plaintiffs’ law firms have not played nearly as critical of a role). Many recent litigation initiative arising out of high profile scandals have also been led by litigation funding firms (refer here, for example).”

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