Burford Capital C.E.O. Christopher Bogart maintains a unique vantage point on international law. His pioneering investment firm has billions tied to the outcome of lawsuits and arbitrations around the globe, which means he follows legal developments as closely as Wall Street traders watch interest rates and quarterly earnings.
It certainly is a most interesting time to quietly fund cases. While the public might associate such activity to politically and socially motivated individuals like Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman, Bogart has shown there’s quite a lot of money to be made in buying a portion of winnings on a legal claim and then hiring some of the industry’s best lawyers to make the bet pay off. That became clear from Burford’s massive $16 billion post-trial win against the government of Argentina a few months ago, while the New York-based firm’s quarterly results attest to ongoing successes elsewhere. While much of the firm’s portfolio remains confidential, some cases have become public, including price-fixing claims against major poultry and beef producers. Burford’s investments are also frequently the target of discovery efforts, revealing other financial positions such as a stake in a major ongoing patent case against Netflix over streaming technology. Overall, litigation funding has drawn the suspicion of everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to House Speaker Mike Johnson, but this is capitalism, pure and simple.