Case study

Combined forces of finance and asset recovery

Company challenge

Former partners of an oil trading company were involved in a contracts dispute after two of the three partners failed to share profits resulting from a venture involving oil activities in Iraq. The plaintiff had hired lawyers from a major US law firm (including the head of the firm’s global litigation department) to face off against his ex-partner, a high-profile Florida billionaire. The case eventually went to trial, and the plaintiff won a significant jury verdict which was then affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court—along with a further $10 million in interest and costs. But the billionaire defendant did not comply with the court order to pay the judgment. Instead, using phalanxes of lawyers and multi-jurisdictional structuring, he did his best to avoid paying while going on openly living in his mansion and flying in his private jet.

Burford legal finance solution

In the beginning, Burford provided financing to cover litigation costs throughout the duration of the trial. Then, when the defendant made it clear that he had no intention of paying the judgment against him, Burford’s asset recovery team mounted its own multi-jurisdictional offense, following the money trail and using its strategic and tactical expertise to freeze and seize assets. Our work took us all over the world, from Dubai to Venezuela. Burford litigated, froze assets or forced intermediate entities into receivership or bankruptcy in England, the Bahamas, Canada, Florida, Texas, Delaware and Cyprus. The defendant tried to stay one step ahead by moving assets around the world, even as Burford showed up with court orders against secret safety deposit boxes in high-end London hotels and planes on private airstrips.

Legal finance impact

After several years of pursuit, the pressure Burford brought to bear was too much, and the defendant gave in, resulting in an almost total recovery for the plaintiff. With the combination of legal finance and asset recovery services, plaintiffs facing recalcitrant debtors no longer have to choose between spending substantial sums on enforcement activities or giving up.