How to crowdfund litigation: a blog and a how-to guide

Lui Asquith, Associate in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, regulation and compliance team.
Lui Asquith
4 min Read

Crowdfunding is becoming an important arm of litigation funding. A quick search boasts fundraising efforts that laugh at £100,000. Yet others struggle to get to an amount that would even get a case over the starting line.

In an era where legal aid has been intensely reduced and individuals have fewer private means, it is an area of funding we feel strongly the everyday person should become conscious of and feel empowered to consider and use.

The need for litigation is highly unlikely to decrease during more difficult economic periods as purse strings are tightened and difficult decisions are made as it can lead to hasty, reckless decision making and individual impact being ignored in the process.

We think everyone should have access to litigation, should they need it, and our short handy guide and explanatory video can hopefully help individuals accrue the funds they need, to bring a claim they need to bring. 

Is it the best funding option?

Broadly, funding litigation can be split into the following options:

  • Private funding: an individual has their own personal means to fund their own claim.
  • Legal aid funding: legal aid is state funding – only certain types of case can be eligible for legal aid funding and individuals may also be subject to a means test.
  • Insurance cover: if you have legal help cover, you should check the terms & conditions to see what claims are covered under the policy.
  • Conditional Fee Arrangements: an arrangement between the client and the solicitor that in the event the claim or defence is successful, the solicitor would charge his fees plus an uplift (or premium) on these comprising a percentage increase of those same hourly rate charges.
  • Litigation funders: there are a growing number of litigation funders that you can apply to including Harbour and Therium.
  • Pro bono support: when lawyers take on cases ‘free of charge’ subject to any disbursements and cost orders made.
  • Crowdfunding, as above.

It is always worth exhausting other options that can provide you with more guarantee than a Crowdfunder would.

If, however, the other options aren’t available to you, crowdfunding is an option you may wish to consider and there’s a wealth of opportunity that could be yours.

How-to guide

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is the process of raising public funds to cover the cost of your case. The main platform used for funding legal cases is CrowdJustice.

What cases often do well?

The cases that grab people’s attention and heartstrings often do well. Whatever you want to fund, try and consider the central human issue and make this the focus point.

For this reason, cases that impact the public benefit more widely are often well suited, so for example a challenge of a public authority, or a challenge that exposes the unfavourable treatment of a minority that could be used to influence systematic change.

However, the main take away is that this is a growing area of funding and there’s no ‘one case’ that does well. It often comes down to the work you do in exposing it.

What information should I include on my crowdfund page?

Remember you are trying to get the attention of strangers and many of them won’t be lawyers. Crowdfunders that speak from the heart often do well but be careful not to ‘babble’.

Tell the reader what claim you want to bring and why. If you are happy to, including a short video of yourself can be an effective way to make your campaign more accessible to the viewer.

Be careful not to include any advice that may be deemed privileged, and you should speak with your lawyer if you are unsure whether you have done this.

How do I decide what the target should be?

Not every firm will take on a crowdfunded case, but many will (Russell-Cooke, for example!) You should speak with your lawyer and ask them for guidance as to what the target should be.

How do I ensure it generates attention?

Think about the people you know already, how can you utilise them?

Get friends and family to share your link and use the social channels you have. Always encourage people to re-share it if they are able to. It’s amazing what can happen once a momentum builds.

You may also want to have a think about particular organisations that may be interested in what you are doing. This can often be easier if your claim is about a particular issue; for example, if you want to bring a challenge that is related to climate change, you could contact NGOs that deal in this area of work.

You may also want to consider reaching out to the media and press, if you feel comfortable in doing so. The media are likely to be interested in stories that will catch the interest of the public. If you do this, we’d always encourage you to ensure you have support around you.

Are there any risks?

The main risk around crowdfunding is the risk of cost orders being made against you, which means you would require more money than you had crowdfunded for.

The first risk can be mitigated by ensuring you work closely with your lawyers to ensure the targets are accurate.

If you would like to find out more, or speak to a member of the team, please contact the public law and regulatory litigation team (020 3826 7513) or complete our online enquiry form.

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