Reflections on 2020

18 December 2020

Ellora MacPherson looks back on an extraordinary year.

Well, we’ve all got through it! Very soon we will close the door on 2020, an extraordinary year like no other. When Harbour moved to online working in March, as many of you did too, little did we know that in December we would still, for the most part, all be away from our offices. And although we’ve been prevented from seeing many of you in person this year, we’re very grateful that your willingness to speak and engage with our team online has enabled us to understand how your needs for litigation and arbitration funding have been impacted by changing economic circumstances. We have also enjoyed that new methods of communication facilitated really honest and open conversations, and glimpses into each other’s lives outside the office (although I suspect the many pets and young children we met during our calls may not have enjoyed the talking about litigation funding as much as we enjoyed meeting them…) We hope one positive legacy from the year will be more of this friendliness and humanity in doing business.
Despite the economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, it’s been a busy year for Harbour.  Learning about your changing needs led to us developing even more ways to deploy our funding. We have now provided working capital facilities to law firms to help them expand their business, we have monetised judgments and arbitral awards, and we have seen greater activity in developing portfolio arrangements for corporates and for law firms. Our sister company, Harbour Underwriting are also offering solutions for defendants, and those who want to manage their own-side costs risk by the utilisation of their After the Event insurance products. You can read more on our new website (another of our 2020 projects). We reviewed and invested in more cases between March and September 2020 than in the same period last year. We have raised our fifth investment fund with capital commitments of $417 million which we are investing in new cases and have expanded our geographic horizons by opening a new office in Germany.
We recognise too, though, that 2020 has been a difficult year for many, and I fear we are yet to see the worst of a rise in personal and corporate insolvency. To ensure we’re ready to help you deal with litigation arising from such circumstances we have expanded our insolvency litigation funding capability with the hire of Charles Jeffrey, and you can read more from him below. We also expect 2021 to bring more fraud claims, as well as enforcement and asset tracing actions, and the awaited decision of the UK Supreme Court in Lloyd v Google potentially heralds a new generation of class actions. As ever, the Harbour team and our new fifth fund stand ready to help you navigate whatever 2021 brings. We hope, at the very least, we will see many of you in person again. Thank you for your continued support.     
With Harbour’s best wishes for the holidays (sent from an appropriate social distance), and hoping for a brighter and prosperous 2021 for us all.
Ellora MacPherson
Chief Investment Officer

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