What’s in a name?
Stature, history and perhaps a bit of mystery for those who are not familiar with Jeremy Bentham and Bentham IMF Ltd.
Bentham IMF is a subsidiary of Bentham IMF Ltd, which is a public company listed on the Australian stock exchange that engages in financing litigation and arbitration. It is the oldest and most experienced commercial litigation funder in the world.
The name Bentham IMF reveals a lot about its place in the commercial litigation financing industry. The name combines two very important names in the history of commercial litigation finance, champerty and third party funding.
Jeremy Bentham was a British jurist and philosopher in the 18th century who championed social justice and the right of people to bring litigation to the courts. As a visionary, he disagreed with the rules of champerty and was an advocate of third party funding as a means to access justice.
By definition, champerty is an agreement between a plaintiff and a third-party who contracts to finance the plaintiff’s lawsuit in return for a percentage of the recovery. Until the mid-20th century, most champerty was illegal, and because of its illegality, alternative litigation financing was infrequent. Claimholders who could not finance costly litigation were often denied access to justice. There was a wide belief that third party funding encouraged frivolous lawsuits. Over the course of two hundred years, Jeremy Bentham’s principles contributed to the breakdown of barriers to litigation funding. Current belief is that third party funding and the due diligence that is involved in choosing cases to fund encourages only the most meritorious cases to be brought to the courts.
Bentham IMF Ltd has played a key role in breaking down these barriers and facilitating a broader acceptance of litigation funding. Since 2001, Bentham IMF Ltd has been funding litigation in Australia and other jurisdictions, establishing itself as the oldest and most experienced commercial litigation funder in the world. In the past decade, Bentham IMF Ltd has reviewed several thousand cases and has completed 149 commercial cases, including five US cases. It has another 29 cases pending. Bentham IMF Ltd’s completed cases have generated over $1.27 billion in damages or settlements for its clients. The chart below shows the success rate of Bentham IMF Ltd’s funding of cases.
In 2011, Bentham IMF Ltd launched Bentham IMF in order to further its work in US markets. Its New York office was opened in 2011 and more recently an office in Los Angeles was opened in 2013. With its name, Bentham IMF, forces old and new are brought together in the fight to increase access to justice through litigation funding for the most meritorious of claims.