The Supreme Court of Ireland granted leave for an appeal brought by Persona Digital Telephone Limited (“Persona”) and Sigma Wireless Networks Limited (“Sigma”) in relation to the High Court’s dismissal of Persona’s and Sigma’s motion for approval of litigation financing from the Funds (“The Harbour Funds”) advised by Harbour Litigation Funding (“Harbour”).
The Supreme Court was satisfied that the issues raised by Persona and Sigma were of public importance and/or necessary in the interests of justice, and that there were exceptional circumstances warranting a “leapfrog” appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court granted leave to determine the question of “whether third party funding, provided during the course of proceedings (rather than at their outset) to support a plaintiff who is unable to progress a case of immense public importance, is unlawful by reason of the rules on maintenance and champerty.” To access the full decision, please click here.
The Harbour Funds have agreed, subject to Irish Court approval, to fund Persona and Sigma in relation to their High Court proceedings against the Minister for Public Enterprise, Ireland, the Attorney General and Denis O’Brien. On 20 April 2016, the Irish High Court dismissed Persona’s and Sigma’s motion for approval of this funding.
Numerous jurisdictions around the world have approved the use of litigation funding, recognising both its value in enabling parties to have access to the courts by covering the expenses of litigation as well as maintaining their growth as global centres for dispute resolution. It is disappointing that, currently, access to justice is being denied in Ireland for the plaintiffs in this important case, as well as for other plaintiffs in need of litigation funding, simply because a third party is paying the legal bills. It is, however, a positive development that the Irish Supreme Court has recognised this as an issue of public importance.