Today, the Supreme Court of Ireland delivered its decision in the much-publicised appeal by Persona Digital Telephony and Sigma Wireless Networks Ltd – the first case to come before the Supreme Court concerning the potential use of professional third party funding to support a party in legal proceedings. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on the basis that third party funding (save in limited circumstances) is unlawful because of the rules in Ireland regarding champerty.
Susan Dunn, Harbour’s Head of Funding, said: “We will carefully consider the implications of the judgments in this matter. Both we and the claimants are disappointed by today’s outcome. We spent a lot of timing reviewing this claim and still believe it to be one of the most meritorious cases we have ever considered, and one in the public interest, and that it should be pursued.”
She added: “It is a shame if meritorious claims such as this still cannot be pursued in Ireland, simply for lack of funding.”
The decision goes against the recent trend of positive developments regarding third party funding, in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Paris.
The Harbour Funds 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 but on 20 April 2016, the Irish High Court dismissed Persona’s and Sigma’s motion for approval of this funding.
On 25 July 2016, the Supreme Court of Ireland 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 that decision, please click here. The hearing took place at the start of April and judgment was handed down on 23 May 2017.