BCLI’s Study Paper on Financing Litigation Celebrates its First Anniversary

4 October 2018

By Valerie Le Blanc

Today marks the one-year anniversary of BCLI’s Study Paper on Financing Litigation. The study paper has been well received by stakeholders, legal academics, lawyers and legal advocates alike.

About the Study Paper on Financing Litigation

The study paper examines the traditional and alternative methods litigants use to pay for litigation. The cost of litigation is a significant barrier to accessing the justice system. While some disputes can be resolved outside the courtroom, litigation is often the only means to achieve an equitable result. However, a litigant’s ability to pay for the legal fees and expenses that come with litigation may become a concern before, or during, the process. Taking a legal dispute to trial is expensive. Many litigants lack the financial resources to take on the risk of an unsuccessful case.

The study paper reviews six financing models that have emerged both in Canada and internationally:

  • Unbundled legal services;
  • Third-party litigation funding;
  • Alternative fee arrangements;
  • Crowdfunding;
  • Legal expense insurance; and
  • Publicly funded litigation funds.

The study paper also identifies 18 opportunities and ideas to consider for structural, systemic or legal change to enhance the use of each financing option in British Columbia. It concludes with a chapter that briefly discusses five alternative ideas that could mitigate the rising cost of legal services and improve access to justice generally. The paper represents a brief introduction to each alternative financing option. The substantive content, research, case law, and other materials are not intended to be interpreted as an exhaustive representation of the information and resources available for study in this area. Research, law, policy and other initiatives continue to develop as more and more opportunities arise to further explore this area.

Noteworthy Updates

Following its release, the study paper continued to generate interest from both the public and legal profession in British Columbia, across Canada, and in the United States. Website statistics report that the study paper has been viewed or downloaded a total of 422 times (209 from the BCLI website and 213 from BCLI’s satellite publications page on the Social Science Research Network website).

Highlights for this update include:

  • Mention of the study paper by Dylan Beynon of Mighty.com, in his blog entitled, “Your November Legal Funding News Roundup” (03 December 2017: New York);
  • Mention of the study paper in the IMF Bentham Limited Annual Report 2018;
  • Mention of the study paper by Gehlen Dabbs Lawyers, in their blog entitled, “Third party funding of litigation in insolvency” (13 April 2018);
  • Mention of the study paper by Debra Smith of the Law Library of Murdoch University, “The Financing Litigation Series” (08 May 2018); and
  • On June 6, 2018, Kathleen Cunningham presented on a panel at the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch webinar, “Increased Access to Justice: Getting Creative with Financing Litigation”. This webinar introduced BCLI’s study paper and discussed the ways in which practitioners in British Columbia can employ the six financing options to assist their clients.

Statistics on project publications and website engagement

One of the goals of the project is to make its research widely known to interested readers. Here are some statistics, tracking how that information is made available to and accessed by the public, since its publication:

Number of publications issued: 1, Study Paper on Financing Litigation

Number of supporting documents issued: 22, one media release announcing publication of the Study Paper on Financing Litigation, a backgrounder on the paper, and a highlights and list of resources page for each of the six financing models explored in the study paper and the final chapter on alternative methods of improving access to justice.

Number of presentations and articles mentioning the study paper: 11

Number of blog posts on the Financing Litigation Legal Research Project (including this one): 15

Number of social media posts (Facebook and Twitter): 17

Number of page views of project page: 936

Number of page views of Financing Litigation Blog Posts (total): 1,389


This project was made possible thanks to the generous funding from the Law Foundation of British Columbia.


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