Maurice MacSweeney joined Harbour in July 2019 as Director of Litigation Funding.
Maurice, what first attracted you to Harbour?
For me it was Harbour’s credibility and integrity. Harbour has achieved a leading position not by aggressively pursuing market share, but rather by being genuinely committed to the cases and legal teams in which they invest.
I was also attracted by Harbour’s commitment to creating an ethical and self-governing industry through their early involvement with the Association of Litigation Funders, (including Harbour’s work helping to draft its Code of Conduct). Litigation is a stressful business, and if you’re supporting parties to litigation I think it’s really important to be viewed as a totally trustworthy partner.
Could you describe your role in a bit more detail?
My job will focus on identifying cases in which Harbour may be able to help with investment, so I will be engaging primarily with law firms to explore how we might support and offer solutions to their clients. Even though Harbour has one of the largest amounts of capital available for investment, there are many law firms out there, and I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of new people and talking about how Harbour can help.
What is your background and what do you bring to the role?
Most recently I was the Business Development Director of Doughty Street Chambers, comprising 150 barristers. We worked across many practice areas ranging from fraud to multi-party environmental tort claims, but a common thread running through our caseload was ensuring clients had proper access to justice, and their rights were being properly protected. Those are two things I am very passionate about, and I look forward to continuing to promote those at Harbour. Prior to that I worked for another set of barristers, and at a boutique firm of fraud litigators, and studied law at Cambridge. What I’ve found most rewarding in all my jobs, and what I will enjoy at Harbour, is developing close, consultative relationships with clients, and coming up with suggestions and solutions that address their needs.
How did you get to know Harbour?
I first met Harbour about six or seven years ago when they were investing in a particular form of VAT litigation, and I worked with barristers practising in that area. I’ve always remembered being struck by their creative way of thinking, their trust and complete willingness to let legal teams and their clients run the litigation, and their very good humour. When I was speaking to you about my current role I was delighted to see those traits of the business in its early days were still very much to the fore!
Can you tell us what you think the biggest challenges are for third party funding?
There seem to be some common misconceptions which persist – for example, that funding supports unmeritorious claims, that it potentially gives rise to conflicts of interest, or that funders have an improper influence over litigation. It’s incumbent on funders to be really upfront about explaining why such concerns are misplaced, and I look forward to having those conversations.