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First legal services credit finance brokerage launched

Russian-speaking pioneer hopes to 'change way lawyers think about charging'

26 November 2013

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Dr Yuri Rapoport, a Russian speaker and legal broker who qualified in Australia, has launched what he claims is the first "legal services credit finance brokerage" in the UK.

Unlike third-party litigation funding, Legal Cost Finance (LCF) controls the relationship with the law firm by taking on the retainer and paying its fees. Meanwhile the client takes out an unsecured personal loan, arranged by LCF.

Dr Rapoport, who set up the first legal brokerage in the UK earlier this year, said lawyers benefited through a "payment guarantee" while clients could pay their fees in regular instalments over an extended period.

"We would like to change the way lawyers think about charging their clients so they are able to pay by instalments," Dr Rapoport said.

"When you buy a car, you are automatically offered a financing solution. Consumers of legal services should be offered the same."

Dr Rapoport said LCF had handled around 16 cases since the summer, the biggest being a mixed dispute with immigration, family and property aspects.

He said other cases included landlord and tenant, involving a claimant who had previously used four law firms, and contested probate.

Dr Rapoport said he had registered 50 law firms, individual barristers and ABSs to act for his LCF clients.

"Take a divorce scenario, where a husband leaves a wife penniless. She needs a lawyer and needs to pay but she knows she will ultimately get the money from her husband.

"Does she go to a litigation funder who doesn't like family cases? What if it is difficult to establish the chances of success? There's nobody there to protect her interests."

Dr Rapoport said LCF charged application fees for arranging the loan, but most of its earnings came from offering dispute resolution services at the end of the case, should they be required.

"Lawyers expect clients to pay large retainers to kick off a case and once money is held on account, they expect clients to pay retainers blindly. But high net worth individuals don't like parting with their money any more than anyone else.

"We're allowing clients more convenience while giving law firms more security - they do not need to pursue clients to get paid."