London-based litigation funder Therium Capital Management will enter Australia on Jan. 1 with an office in Melbourne.
The Australian operation will be headed by Simon Dluzniak, who was most recently a director at Australia-based Kent Street Consulting, a brokerage firm helping litigation funders source and assess cases. Previously, he was an investment manager at litigation funders IMF Bentham Ltd. in Melbourne and Bentham Europe Ltd. in London.
In Australia, Therium will focus on financing class actions and general commercial, insolvency and arbitration claims. The litigation funder said it has been funding claims in the country since 2011 and is currently funding a shareholder class action against wealth manager AMP Ltd. and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd. Dozens of the nation’s financial service providers are currently embroiled in a public inquiry into unethical practices, including the selling of highly risky financial products to vulnerable populations.
“The market in Australia for litigation funding of class actions, general commercial cases and insolvency matters is both well-established and currently very buoyant,” Neil Purslow, co-founder and chief investment officer of Therium, said in a statement.
Litigation funding in Australia is commonplace and has a long history. In 1993, the states of New South Wales and Victoria first abolished the practice of maintenance and champerty, which describe the support of litigation by a stranger without just cause and the support of litigation by a stranger in return for a share of the proceeds, respectively, paving the way for other states to follow. The litigation funding market was given a boost in 2006 by a High Court decision that clarified the legitimacy of litigation funding.
From Australia, Therium will also fund arbitration claims in Singapore and Hong Kong—Asia’s top dispute resolution centers—which both passed laws allowing third-party funding for arbitration last year. Singapore enacted the law on March 2017 and has since seen litigation funders such as IMF Bentham, New York-based Burford Capital and London-based Woodsford Litigation Funding Ltd. open offices in the city-state.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong is still waiting for its own similar law to be enacted more than a year after it was passed in June 2017.