Litigation Finance: An interview with Eloise Matsui of Omni Bridgeway

in Articles

DatePosted on August 03, 2023 at 12:30 PM
Share share

In this exclusive interview, we sat down with Eloise Matsui, an Investment Manager at Omni Bridgeway, a leading firm specialising in litigation finance. Eloise gives us a captivating insight into her role as an Investment Manager, which involves sourcing and underwriting cases for funding, as well as managing funded cases in HK.

1. Give a brief description of the work you do?

As an Investment Manager at Omni Bridgeway, my role involves (i) sourcing new opportunities for cases to fund; (ii) underwriting cases (which includes assessing the merits, considering likely recoveries, negotiation funding terms, due diligence of cases and submissions to our internal investment committee); and (iii) management of funded cases.

Eloise Matsui, Investment Manager at Omni Bridgeway2. What drew you to litigation finance? 

I was interested in a role outside of private practice where I could still be involved in interesting large-scale litigious matters including from a strategic perspective. I was also interested in developing skills in new areas including understanding the financial side of analysing what makes a dispute profitable for our investors. 

3. What do you enjoy about this work? Has the career change been satisfying?

I enjoy analysing cases from an impartial viewpoint, thinking about the merits without being clouded by the personal motivations of a client or being driven to meet financial targets within a law firm structure. I enjoy the autonomy and responsibility, but also working alongside my highly experienced fellow investment managers in APAC and globally. I am only about 8 months into this career change, but so far, I am finding it satisfying. I feel like all the skills I built up over 14 years in private practice in Australia and Hong Kong are being put to good use, but at the same time, I am being challenged and learning lots of new things.

4. How did you first decide to pursue a career in the legal industry?

During my final 2 years of high school, I enjoyed my Political and Legal Studies subject. I was also part of our school’s Mock Trials team, which was the first all-girls team to win the state competition. This exposure to the legal world at a pivotal time when choosing university course preferences is probably what made me pursue law. All the while Ally McBeal was a very popular TV show!  

5. What characteristics does it take to thrive in this industry?

Willingness to work hard, think about creative solutions, ability to assess risk and a thick skin.

6. Can you tell us more about your role on the IWIRC executive board? 

The IWIRC executive committee is made up of 6 members of the senior leadership of IWIRC responsible for decision-making for the day-to-day management of IWIRC. In 2023 I am the Finance Director, responsible for financial oversight of IWIRC including reviewing and approval of monthly financial reporting. I am also responsible for oversight of the preparation of the organisation’s annual budget, audit and tax return, together with increasing and sustaining sponsorship of the organisation. Involvement on the executive committee is a 6-year commitment, and I will take the role of Chair of IWIRC in 2026. I am the first non-North American member of the executive board, and therefore see part of my role to also represent viewpoints and perspectives from other jurisdictions and particularly Asia.


7. Tell us more about the career path that led you to Omni Bridgeway. What sort of practice did you have as a litigator?

As an associate and later as a partner at Stephenson Harwood, my specialism was focused on Insolvency & Restructuring. I acted for foreign companies, Hong Kong-listed and private companies and insolvency practitioners in debt restructurings, insolvency scenarios and associated litigation and creditor clients on enforcement options in distressed scenarios. In Hong Kong, third-party funding is not permissible for all civil litigation due to the torts of maintenance and champerty (“M&C”). However, insolvency is one of the clear exceptions to M&C. Funding claims in the insolvency space is, therefore, a key target area of opportunity for Omni Bridgeway (in Hong Kong, Singapore and more generally in the region). I, therefore, bring to Omni Bridgeway my expertise from working on insolvency cases, together with a deep network of connections within the industry.

8. What trends you are seeing currently in litigation funding in Asia?

There is huge potential for growth jurisdictions like Singapore and Hong Kong where they have permitted funding of international arbitrations and insolvency litigation and many other jurisdictions looking to follow. There are also many judgments and awards going unpaid, creating many opportunities for our enforcement finance business. Beyond Singapore and Hong Kong, most of the remaining Asian markets are civil law jurisdictions where litigation funding is not restricted. It is also the fastest-growing economic region in the world and represents enormous growth potential for the industry. It has significant investment opportunities which give rise to high-value commercial cross ‐ ‐ border disputes and, in turn, exponential demand for dispute finance. India and South Korea have been identified as areas of growth, where Omni Bridgeway is already working with substantial local businesses to resolve disputes on the international stage.

9. Tell us about the types of services Omni Bridgeway offers and to whom? How can it help corporates / in-house counsel in HK?

Omni Bridgeway offers dispute finance with tailored solutions from the inception of a case, through to trial, appeal, post-judgment enforcement and legal recovery. Our non-recourse funding is designed to provide clients whether that is corporates, in-house counsel, law firms, lawyers, individuals, and groups with an alternate source of capital to pursue legal claims and recover awards and judgments without the need to risk their funds.

10. What advice would you give potential clients in terms of how to work with a funder most productively?

The earlier you come to us the better. By bringing in a funder as early as possible, together with the client we can devise a case theory and strategy.

11. How important is it to be innovative when it comes to helping your clients with their interactions?

With increased competition from other funders operating out of the same markets, Omni Bridgeway has been at the forefront of the industry in Asia from its inception. Having a team ground in Asia means that we can identify potential investments and respond quickly to business opportunities and needs across the region.

Hong Kong's litigation finance landscape is still in its infancy (credit: Shutterstock)

12. Omni Bridgeway has always been a market leader and innovator. Tell us a bit about that history, and perhaps any innovations on the horizon.

Since 1986, Omni Bridgeway has an established record of financing disputes and enforcement proceedings around the world, with over 35 years of experience and as one of the founders of the global industry, as we know it today, we continue to develop innovative finance solutions and risk management strategies to support our clients. Our solutions are particularly relevant in the current environment given the economic challenges currently being experienced. The dispute finance industry in Asia has become increasingly mainstream as a cost and risk mitigation option for companies, governments and individuals, the sector continues to grow exponentially, evidenced by increasing applications for funding and funded cases. Omni Bridgeway has begun utilising the emerging secondary market, along with syndicating its larger investments. We are also in the early stages of developing a specific construction-focused product offering.

13. What sets Omni Bridgeway apart from competitors? How is it unique?

Omni Bridgeway was one of the first international dispute funders to establish permanent offices in Singapore and Hong Kong and has the most significant presence in Asia relative to our competitors. We are one of the first funders to finance insolvency and arbitration processing in Asia. The only dispute finance selected by IFC World Bank to finance non-performing loans in the MENA region. We have developed our system for capturing, managing, and analysing client information and data for our funded class actions. We have also introduced dispute finance to new markets such as Canada. We are also one of the few funders that are publicly listed. The combined Omni Bridgeway business is a major diversified global litigation funding platform. We are therefore able to provide a seamless service to our clients and their advisers throughout the world, from impecunious individuals facing better-resourced opponents to multi-national companies facing complex multi‐jurisdictional issues and cross-border recoveries.

For more information about Omni Bridgeway and litigation funding: