The Financing Litigation Legal Research Project: Six-month Update

4 April 2018

By Valerie Le Blanc

2017 was an exciting year for BCLI’s Financing Litigation Legal Research Project, culminating in the publication of the Study Paper on Financing Litigation on October 4, 2017. The study paper has been well received by stakeholders, legal academics, lawyers and legal advocates alike.

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. This 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

Shortly after 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 downloaded 219 times (124 from the BCLI website and 95 from BCLI’s satellite publications page on the Social Science Research Network website).

Valerie Le Blanc, lead researcher and writer of the study paper, also published The Financing Litigation Series: Exploring Options to Pay for Legal Services, a six-part, bi-weekly blog series featuring each of the six financing models explored in the study paper. Each post contained a list of resources extracted from the chapter, and a highlights page. The blog posts were published during the period October 18, 2017 to January 10, 2018. A feature blog post was also published on February 8, 2018 summarizing the Alternative Methods of Improving Access to Justice that were discussed in the final chapter of the study paper.

The study paper was also featured in the following:

  • Mention of the study paper at the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch Unbundled Legal Services Section meeting—October 18, 2017;
  • The Lawyer’s Daily (Ontario), The Scrivener (British Columbia), The Advocate (British Columbia) and The Litigation Finance Journal (New York); and
  • Social media posts by law professors Noel Semple (University of Windsor, Faculty of Law) and Anna Lund (University of Alberta, Faculty of Law).

Events in 2018

On February 9, 2018, Kathleen Cunningham participated on a panel discussion on the topic of financing insolvency litigation at the 15th Annual Review of Insolvency Law Conference in Vancouver, a conference co-chaired by BCLI Director Dr Janis Sarra.

On June 6, 2018, Kathleen Cunningham will present on a panel at the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch webinar, “Increased Access to Justice: Getting Creative with Financing Litigation”. This webinar is being held to introduce BCLI’s study paper, and discuss the ways in which practitioners in British Columbia might be able to employ the six financing options to assist their clients. To register for the webinar, click here.

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, during 2017 and 2018:

  • Number of publications: one, the 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 (PDF), 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: 7
  • Number of blog posts on the Financing Litigation Legal Research Project (including this one): 14
  • Number of social media posts (Facebook and Twitter): 17
  • Number of pageviews of project page: 634
  • Number of pageviews (total): 819


This project was made possible thanks to the generous funding from

the Law Foundation of British Columbia.

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