Focus: Third-party funding helps access to justice — Law Times

Kevin O’Brien

Sept. 5, 2016

Class-action funding by third parties is beginning to make waves in Ontario and is helping provide better access to justice, according to an article in Law Times. In her article, Marg. Bruineman explains the premise of private funding of class actions and outlines how it can benefit both the funding organization and the plaintiff. Because there is so much financial risk involved in class actions, according to the article, commercial funding helps offer some form of insurance to the plaintiff and their counsel while insulating them from potential adverse litigation costs. Consequently, in successful class actions, the funder receives a portion of the award. This concept was developed out of a need, says Kevin O’Brien, a partner in Osler’s Litigation Group.

In the Law Times article, Kevin explains how the existing Class Proceedings Fund — a not-for-profit, self-perpetuating funding mechanism — isn’t all-encompassing, and with potential award sizes against the plaintiff and the lawyers’ financial risk increasing, there is sometimes reluctance on lawyers’ parts to engage in class actions. This is where the third-party funding helps solve the problem, Kevin says.

“And then you had real issues of access to justice because you had people who weren’t able to find plaintiff’s counsel to bring their claims forward,” Kevin tells the Law Times. “Someone really needed to fill that gap.”

Because these commercial funders fill that role, Kevin says he thinks they are here to stay and could take on a more standard form in future.

Find out more by reading the full article “Focus: Third-party funding helps access to justice” in the Law Times.