LISC was recently invited by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) Board of Directors to present and discuss its services at their most recent meeting on October 20, 2014 in Toronto. The following is taken from the presentation made by Stephen Pauwels, Principal of BridgePoint Financial Services Inc.
BridgePoint Indemnity Company – or “LISC” – is an entirely distinct entity from our financing businesses. It has its own investors, its own board of directors, and its own reinsurance arrangements. But it does share a common management team, and obviously serves the same client base of the more than 600 law firms across Canada we have relationships with.
While legal cost protection is still a relatively new concept for personal injury litigation, BridgePoint has actually been offering adverse cost protection for representative plaintiffs and disbursement protection for counsel in class action litigation since 2009. And we had to overcome some serious obstacles in our path in doing so. Defendants fought us at every step in the early days until we received court approval in each province: They attacked us initially on the maintenance and champerty issue, which we successfully defeated. They finally demanded assurances that we had the financial resources to back our commitments, which we provided to the full satisfaction of the judges who had to approve each of our indemnity arrangements.
Ultimately, the courts endorsed plaintiff counsels’ submission that without our legal cost indemnities, meritorious claims would be abandoned out of fear of cost exposure, denying access to justice for plaintiffs across Canada. Today we are the leading commercial provider of legal cost indemnities and disbursement financing for class action litigation in Canada.
So please understand that the courts have already spent considerable time analyzing our contracts and assessing our organization. We were extensively questioned by judges from a public policy perspective about any rights we might have to control or manage the litigation in any way. Our response was, and remains, that our indemnity agreements, in contrast to ‘after the event’ insurance we could have alternatively chosen to offer, provides us no rights of subrogation or otherwise which could enable us to direct the litigation.
You and your client maintain full and exclusive control of the litigation. Your relationship with your client – and any decision made to accept or reject a settlement offer, or elect to go trial – remains privileged and inviolable under our indemnity arrangement. If that decision is to try the case in court then we will support it automatically. And if the claim is unsuccessful, we will pay the claim as promised, just as we have done on several occasions to date. That’s the business we are in.
Our mandate is to offer flexible, tailored legal cost protection solutions to address the unique circumstances of individual claims. We can consider any amount of protection at any stage of the litigation – with pricing of course reflecting the risks accordingly. We do not believe that a generic, one size fits all model works in this arena, and nor do our law firm clients. Litigation is dynamic, and requires a dynamic solution, which is precisely what we offer.
That is not to suggest that we can’t offer broad indemnity protection arrangements. Many firms have subscribed for our umbrella protection which offers a base level of cost protection on a portfolio of claims – in several instances on every file in a firm’s current and future inventory. Protection amounts may then be augmented for the cases that move towards trial as required. Buying up protection for the cases that need it is another example of the flexible, customized solutions we offer.
LISCs management team is here in Canada, where all of our case and risk assessment decisions are made. We control what cases we take on and what terms we can offer – and we can do so immediately. That is the responsiveness you have to have in litigation. We have over ten years of experience assessing tens of thousands of injury claims and have developed close and trusted relationships with law firms across the country in doing so. We designed this product based on that experience and based on the input of those firms, so our product is custom tailored for the unique Canadian litigation market. Not a pre-baked import, originally designed for a foreign litigation.
I invite you to review a few of the testimonials and case studies we have provided to demonstrate the value of this innovative and proprietary service we offer…