The Essar v. Norscot decision rendered by the High Court of England and Wales in 2016 has opened the door, or at least a window, for the recovery of the full fees of third party funding arrangements in international commercial arbitration.
The recoverability of the success fees or premiums payable under a third-party funding (TPF) agreement as costs in arbitration can be criticized on three fundamental and overlapping bases. First, the distinction between funds actually advanced by the third-party funder and a premium is crucial. Secondly, the arbitrator’s discretion is defined and limited by law and should focus primarily on the allocation of costs rather than the definition of the recoverable costs. Finally, an award for the full recovery of third party funding fees should only be made on a clearly defined legal basis.
In addition, there are a number of policy considerations which point against the recoverability of the full costs of TPF.
The authors recommend modifications to institutional arbitration rules and national arbitration laws to clarify issues related to the recoverability of third party funding costs in arbitration. In the meantime, commercial parties may consider including more detailed contractual provisions to avoid any unforeseen or undesired liability for the costs of TPF.Journal of International Arbitration