Litigation funding in Singapore
3 August 2016
Woodsford Litigation Funding is at the forefront of developments in the law and practice of litigation funding around the world. We are therefore pleased to have been given an opportunity to respond to the Singapore Ministry of Law’s public consultation on opening up access to justice in arbitral proceedings within Singapore.
The Ministry of Law invited comments on its draft Civil Law (Amendment) Bill 2016 and Civil Law (Third-Party Funding) Regulations 2016, which propose to liberalise the market in Singapore in respect of third party funding of parties in international commercial arbitration, bringing the jurisdiction in line with major arbitration centres around the world, including London, Paris and Geneva.
Singapore has followed hot on the heels of Hong Kong’s similar public consultation, which closed earlier this year. Singapore is keen to remain a competitive jurisdiction in which to pursue dispute resolution and many of those involved in the litigation funding industry have welcomed the opening up of the market.
Woodsford welcomes the proposed framework as a starting point. It removes the antiquated principles of maintenance and champerty in Singapore, and permits third-party funding of arbitrations, broadening from the current position of permitting third party funding only in insolvency proceedings. Woodsford has urged the Ministry of Law to go further, and to permit third party funding of high value, commercial litigation, particularly where the parties are legally represented. We see no good reason to draw a distinction for these purposes between commercial litigation and arbitration proceedings. Indeed, the Singapore Court of Appeal noted in Otech Pakistan Pvt Ltd v Clough Engineering Ltd  1 SLR(R) 989 that such a distinction would be “artificial”.
Woodsford's Chief Investment Officer, Steven Friel said: “Woodsford Litigation Funding is committed to access to justice, funding meritorious claims that might otherwise be thwarted by the costs and risks involved in high-value litigation and arbitration. Our existing portfolio of cases includes intellectual property litigation, investment treaty arbitrations and class actions. We are active in most of the key international centres for dispute resolution, including London, Paris, New York and Sydney, and we stand ready, willing and able to contribute to access to justice in Singapore. We foresee plenty of demand for third-party litigation funding in Singapore, and we look forward to working with lawyers and litigants on meritorious claims."
Woodsford’s submissions to the Singapore Ministry of Law can be viewed here.