Three aspects of litigation funding
This comment reviews three decisions of the Supreme Court of Ireland from the last three years which concern different aspects of litigation funding. Persona Digital Telephony Ltd v Minister for Public Enterprise is about the direct provision of financial support for litigation, something which the Supreme Court invalidated as contravening the ancient principles of maintenance and champerty. In SPV Osus v HSBC Institutional Trust Services the Supreme Court unsurprisingly struck down an assignment of a right to litigate as also savouring of maintenance and champerty. Finally in Moorview Development Ltd v First Active plc the Supreme Court considered when a third party supporting litigation in circumstances not covered by Persona Digital might be required to pay the costs of the defendant should the litigation supported be lost. Persona Digital is a decision of mainly Irish significance, but the other decisions have implications for the wider common law in relation to two matters. The first is whether the difference between financing a claim and buying it is more than a matter of form. The second is the appropriate approach of courts wherever situated to making a non-commercial funder of civil litigation liable to pay the costs of an opposing litigant.