UK Legal Industry Growth Slows As Covid-19 Impacts

By John Freund |

The UK Legal Industry generated revenues of £9.34bn in the first calendar quarter of 2020, down 6.6% on the final quarter of 2019. And while there are usually falls between Q4 and Q1 due to seasonal factors, the drop this quarter was the highest in four years, a full one percentage point greater than the drop in the same period in the prior year. The final weeks of March cover the period when Covid-19 was beginning to impact the economy.

To put this in context, overall Q1 2020 UK Services Industries turnover was £53.49bn, down 7.6%. Both Legal and Services had however reached record highs in Q4 2019.

Legal Industry Woes 

Augusta recently published analysis of 40 of the UK’s leading law firms which shows that before the crisis hit, 55% had insufficient cash on their balance sheets to cover one month’s bills and 38% could not even fund one months’ staff salary’s from reserves.

Louis Young, Managing Director at leading litigation funder Augusta commented on the ONS data: “The Legal Industry in the UK had already started to see growth fall off before the pandemic hit. UK law firms have seen significant revenue falls since lockdown began, Q2 will unfortunately be well below past quarters. Many firms are seeking support for their businesses – the provision of finance from external sources will be incredibly important to their survival as time progresses.”

Andrew O’Connor, Investment Manager at Augusta and author of the law firm research said: “Before the crisis, Law firm’s lean approaches to cash management were hailed as improving operating efficiency. However this has also left balance sheets undercapitalised to deal with the prolonged financial shock that is currently unfolding”.

Louis Young and Andrew O’Connor are available for interview as required.

About The Augusta Research:

  • In May 2020, Augusta published research based on analysis of the top 40 UK LLPs published accounts.
  • Data on financial health and stability was analysed to identify potential issues.
  • The full research report is available on request.

About The ONS Data:

  • Office of National Statistics publishes regular data on the UK services industry – the Monthly Business Survey
  • The chart below shows UK turnover for Legal Services (JQ3O) by quarter since 2015.

    About Augusta Ventures:– Established in 2013, Augusta is the largest litigation and dispute funding institution in the UK by # cases. Augusta’s scale enables us to make decisions in market-leading timeframes and fund cases of any size.
    – Augusta is organised into specialist practice groups: Arbitration, Class Action, Competition, Consumer, Intellectual Property and Litigation, and sectors: Financial Services and Construction & Energy.
    – By the end of 2019, Augusta had funded 227 claims.  

    Contact:
    Leor Franks, Chief Marketing Officer, leor.franks@augustaventures.com+44 20 3510 2100, www.augustaventures.com

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Fernando Gragera joins Aon to lead the litigation and contingency insurance practice in Iberia

By Harry Moran |

Aon strengthens its M&A and Transaction Solutions team and pioneers a local team specialising in the management of these risks

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, has appointed Fernando Gragera as Director of Litigation and Contingent Risks for Spain and Portugal. Fernando will join the Iberia M&A and Transaction Solutions (AMATS) team led by Lucas López Vázquez, and globally in Aon's international Litigation Risk Group. His role will be to develop the litigation insurance practice and assist Aon's clients in transferring risks arising from litigation and contingent situations.

Fernando Gragera, a Spanish lawyer and solicitor of England and Wales with more than 13 years of professional experience, comes from PLA Litigation Funding, a litigation funder specialising in the Iberian market. Previously, he worked as a lawyer in the litigation and arbitration department of Cuatrecasas and as in-house counsel at Meliá Hotels International, where he was responsible for the group's litigation and arbitration.

This appointment responds to the growing interest from investment funds, corporations and law firms in covering contingent and litigation-related risks and makes Aon the first professional services firm with a local team specialising in contingent and litigation solutions in Iberia.

Miguel Blesa, head of Aon Transaction Solutions in Iberia: "Fernando's appointment is a major milestone for the industry and embodies a commitment we have been working on for years. In this way, we reinforce our commitment to continue to support our clients and help them make the best decisions to protect and grow their business”.

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Through actionable analytic insight, globally integrated Risk Capital and Human Capital expertise, and locally relevant solutions, our colleagues provide clients in over 120 countries and sovereignties with the clarity and confidence to make better risk and people decisions that help protect and grow their businesses.

Follow Aon on X and LinkedIn. To learn more visit our NOA content platform. 

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Altroconsumo Secures Impressive 50 million Euro Settlement for 60,000 Participants to Dieselgate Class Action in Italy

By Harry Moran |

Altroconsumo and VW Group have reached a ground-breaking agreement, providing over 50 million euro relief to over 60,000 Italian consumers affected by the emissions fraud scandal. Celebrating this major win for Italian consumers, Euroconsumers calls on Volkswagen to now also compensate Dieselgate victims in the other Euroconsumers countries. 

The settlement reached by Altroconsumo, arising from a Euroconsumers coordinated class action which commenced in 2015 ensures that Volkswagen will allocate over 50 million euros in compensation. Eligible participants stand to receive payments of up to 1100 euros per individual owner.

This brings an end to an eight year long legal battle that Altroconsumo together with Euroconsumers has been fiercefully fighting for Italian consumers and marks a significant milestone in seeking justice for those impacted by the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.

We extend our massive congratulations to Altroconsumo for reaching this major settlement in favor of the Italian Dieselgate victims. Finally, they will receive the justice and compensation they deserve. This milestone underscores the importance of upholding consumer rights and the accountability of big market players when these rights are ignored, something Euroconsumers and all its national organisations will continue to do together with even more intensity under the new Representative Actions Directive” – Marco Scialdone, Head Litigation and Academic Outreach Euroconsumers

Together with Altroconsumo in Italy, Euroconsumers also initiated Dieselgate class actions against the Volkswagen-group in Belgium, Spain and Portugal. While the circumstances are shared, the outcomes have been far from consistent.

Euroconsumers was the first European consumer cluster to launch collective actions against Volkswagen to secure redress and compensation for all affected by the emissions scandal in its member countries. After 8 years of relentless pursuit, we urge the VW group to finally come through for all of them and give all of them the compensation they rightfully deserve. All Dieselgate victims are equal and should be treated with equal respect.” – Els Bruggeman, Head Policy and Enforcement Euroconsumers

Consumer protection is nothing without enforcement and so Euroconsumers and its organisations will continue to lead important class actions which benefit consumers all across the single market. 

Read the full Altroconsumo press release here.

About Euroconsumers 

Gathering five national consumer organisations and giving voice to a total of more than 1,5 million people in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Brazil, Euroconsumers is the world’s leading consumer cluster in innovative information, personalised services and the defence of consumer rights. Our European member organisations are part of the umbrella network of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation. Together we advocate for EU policies that benefit consumers in their daily lives.

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New Study Reveals How GCs and CFOs Across Industries Manage Legal Risk and Value in an Uncertain Climate

By Harry Moran |

Burford Capital, the leading global finance and asset management firm focused on law, today releases a new study that examines how senior legal and finance department leaders across industries approach litigation spend, legal cost and risk management and optimizing legal department value.

Much has changed in the 15 years since Burford's inception in the wake of the global financial crisis. Economic, political and societal changes have impacted different industries and their legal functions in different ways. This study reveals how leaders from both legal and finance functions in various industries are responding to both external and internal factors—adapting their legal strategies to navigate the evolving landscape effectively—and where they plan to allocate resources moving forward.

The research is gathered from online interviews with 400 senior lawyers and finance professionals across ten industry sectors, shedding light on their decision-making processes regarding commercial disputes as well as cost and risk management within their legal departments. Industry sectors addressed are construction and real estate; consumer goods and services; energy; food; healthcare; manufacturing; mining; pharma and life sciences; retail; and transportation and supply chain.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Senior legal and finance leaders in construction and mining expect the biggest increases in litigation spend in the next five years, with pharma and food close behind.
  • 3 of 4 GCs and CFOs in construction and real estate say a top priority is to increase certainty and predictability of legal costs—25% higher than the average across all industries.
  • Pharma and life sciences GCs and CFOs are four times more likely than the average across all industries to say they could reallocate $50 million or more elsewhere in the business by financing litigation and arbitration.
  • Almost two thirds (65%) of senior finance and legal leaders at mining companies say that in the next 15 years they are likely to use monetization, a legal finance solution that provides businesses immediate capital by advancing some of the expected entitlement of a pending claim, judgment or award.
  • Half of GCs and CFOs at food companies expect their organization's litigation and arbitration spend to increase by more than 25% over the next five years; they are also 54% more likely to have used legal finance than the average across all industries.
  • A third of senior finance and legal leaders at energy companies say they already have a robust affirmative recovery program in place, nearly twice as many as the average across all industries. 
  • Healthcare, retail and consumer GCs and CFOs are more likely to say legal finance can play a significant role in reducing overall litigation and legal costs, perhaps reflecting these sectors' typically thin margins and their desire for innovative cost-saving measures.
  • Finance and legal leaders at retail companies are the most likely to say they intend to invest heavily in legal technology and AI over the next year.
  • Industries in which leaders anticipate the largest increases in future litigation spend do not currently have the largest budgets, suggesting a significant shift in litigation priorities among some industries.

Christopher Bogart, CEO of Burford Capital, said: "Burford's latest research affirms that GCs and CFOs across industries are thinking about new ways to create value for the business, which is at the heart of our work to help clients reframe the legal department from cost center to capital source.

"Burford was founded in the wake of the 2009 global financial crisis, and we recognize that our capital and expertise are especially valuable in challenging times. A major shift since our founding is the continued expansion of our client base from law firms to companies, including very large ones, and financing arrangements with companies now account for the majority of our business. We help all our clients navigate risk and exploring innovative capital solutions, but the growth of our business with corporate clients—including a recent $325 million deal with a single Fortune 500—is exemplary of how much our capital and expertise can help businesses both survive and thrive in today's uncertain landscape."

The latest research is based on an online survey of senior financial officers and in-house lawyers of companies across ten different industries and with annual revenues of $50 million or more in the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands and the UAE. All respondents are in roles that include knowledge of their companies' litigation expenditures and decision-making.The Industry perspectives on litigation and arbitration survey can be downloaded on Burford's website. The research was conducted by GLG from December 2023–January 2024.

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