Legal Disbursement Funding – What you need to know

Following the demise of Novitas Loans and Affiniti Finance in recent months, and the subsequent negative coverage in the legal trade press, it is worth taking a step back to consider when looking for a legal disbursements funder to work with – not all are created equal.

The key things a professional funder will want to understand

A competent funder will always try to understand your business:

  1. How well established is your firm in the case types handled?
  2. Where do cases come from?
  3. What experience do the fee earners have of these case types?
  4. What is your firm’s risk appetite, criteria, and long-term strategy in relation to the case types?
  5. Do you have a demonstrable track record of success in winning these cases?
  6. How do you risk-assess your experts?
Your firm’s financial situation 

And then, of course, they should want to understand your finances.
A funder will want to look at things like your last three years financials, and forecasts, existing loans and security given, working capital and cashflow.

This list is not exhaustive but shows it is not as simple as “We have some cash that we would like to make a return on; please take several thousands of pounds and do what you wish.”

That’s clearly a recipe for disaster and only brings all parties into conflict, creates a very poor image of the industry, and often leaves clients with nowhere to go.

A client perspective: key questions most clients ask

If a funder expects to know that much about your business, it’s only fair that your firm should carry out its own due diligence of the funder to ensure your business gets what it needs on a long-term, sustainable basis.

What questions should you be asking?  Based on our clients’ experiences here are a few basic questions.

  1. What is the funder’s track record and how well established are they? 
  2. Is the money being lent the funder’s own money or is it being borrowed from a third party? 
  3. Are the terms simple and transparent?
    - Is the interest rate simple or compound?
    - Are there additional charges such as drawdown fees, and set up fees?
    - Does it affect or complicate my relationship with my client?  
  4. What is the funder’s experience of lending in this market? 
  5. Do they have simple stable systems to ensure your business isn't tied up in operational knots?

About us: MA UK Legal Funding 

We are the UK division of MA Financial Group - an ASX-listed financial services firm headquartered in Australia specialising in Asset Management, Corporate Advisory and Equities, as well as Specialty Lending.

In Australia, MA Financial is a leading legal funder, servicing many of the country’s most respected law firms, large and small. We have achieved this position due to our investment in understanding our clients’ needs and building our processes and systems tailored to these needs. Our ambition is to bring the same institutional, transparent feel to legal disbursement funding in the UK.

We support law firms with their disbursement funding and any costs advance requirements. Our direct arrangement with law firms on their portfolio of cases has no recourse to the consumer, allowing law firms to get on with helping their clients’. It is there to help law firms in unlocking working capital, releasing cashflow in a way traditional lenders cannot. Banks are not always the answer; whilst lending rates are often low, loans are small and come with onerous security, including first ranking charges on the entire business.

Whilst funding isn’t always the solution to a law firm’s growth strategy, it should be looked at as a positive opportunity to grow the business with a specialist by their side. Like any business engaging a new supplier, you should carry out a thorough review of who you are dealing with, and whether they can deliver what you need.

Asking those basic questions is a great starting point and will go a long way to ensuring that you end up with a funder who adds value to your business.

David Vine
Head of Sales, Specialty Credit Lending MA UK. 

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Privacy Policy

MAF Credit

INTRODUCTION

This policy applies to personal information collected by MAF Credit Pty Ltd (ACN 623 716 503) and all of its wholly-owned subsidiaries, together referred to in this Policy as “MAF Credit”, “us”, “our” or “we”. It outlines how MAF Credit collects and uses your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles.

WHAT INFORMATION DO WE COLLECT?

MAF Credit will collect and hold your personal information for the purposes of:​
Providing products and services to you;
Managing and administering the products and services;
and Letting you know about our other products and services.​

The type of information collected from you includes information necessary to operate your account or for us to provide financial services to you. We may ask you to provide personal information such as:​

Name;
email address;
residential and/or postal address;
date of birth;
contact details;
bank account details;
and financial details.

HOW PERSONAL INFORMATION IS COLLECTED?

The personal information we collect about you comes primarily from your account application forms, engagement letters or other product forms and through our ongoing communications with you. MAF Credit may collect information about you in addition to what you voluntarily provide to us in order to comply with relevant laws and regulations. Wherever there is a legal requirement for us to ask for information about you, we will inform you of the obligation and the consequences of not giving us the requested information. For example, in addition to obtaining personal information from you when you acquire a new product or service from us, we will need to obtain certain documentary evidence from you as to your identity. Such evidence may include items such as a certified copy of your driver’s licence, passport or birth certificate.​

We will not collect any personal information about you except where you have knowingly provided that information to us or we believe you have authorised a third party to provide that information to us. Any information collected from publicly available sources will be treated in the same way as the information you voluntarily disclose with strict confidence.

HOW DO WE USE AND DISCLOSE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION?

We only use and hold your personal information for the purpose of providing you with the financial service or products you have sought from us or for any other matters that are directly related with that purpose that you would reasonably expect.​

The types of external organisations to which we often disclose your personal information include:·
any organisations involved in providing, managing or administering our products or services such as settlement agents, custodians or external dispute resolution services;
your financial adviser;
any fund administrator and custodian where you have invested in one of our managed funds;
any financial institution who holds an account for you;
any professional advisers appointed by us;
businesses that may have referred you to us; and
other MAF Credit associated entities located globally.​

Like other financial services companies, there are situations where we may also disclose your personal information where it is:

required by law (such as to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission or AUSTRAC);

required by the relevant operating exchange such as ASX or Chi-X under the respective market operating rules and that information may be used by the market for its purposes (for example, in the course of compliance activities);

authorised by law (such as where we are obliged to disclose information in the public interest or to protect our interests);

necessary in discharging obligations (such as to foreign governments for the purposes of foreign taxation); and required to assist in law enforcement (such as to a police force).

SECURITY OF COLLECTED INFORMATION

We endeavor and use reasonable efforts to maintain physical, electronic, and administrative safeguards to protect your personal information from misuse, interference, loss and unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. We restrict access to information about you to those MAF Credit personnel on a need-to-know basis for the purposes of providing services to you.​

Although MAF Credit endeavors to take steps to provide a secure environment to hold your personal information, there is no guarantee that the electronic information about you stored on the internet is totally secure due to the nature of the internet. However, once we detect any unauthorised access or any kind of potential abuse, we will notify you and at the same time take the appropriate remedial steps as early as practicably possible.​

Once your relationship with MAF Credit comes to an end and the service you have sought from us has been provided and completed or upon your request, MAF Credit will destroy your personal information physically and electronically or de-identify your personal information unless it is contained in a Commonwealth record or MAF Credit is required or 3 authorised by an Australian law or a court or tribunal order to retain such information. For instance, your transaction records will be retained for a certain period of time after the transaction completes during which you may have already ceased to be our client.

Destruction of your personal information will be irretrievable. Depending on how we hold your information, paper records containing your personal information will be shredded before it is recycled. If your information is in electronic form, the way we destroy your personal information will vary depending on the kinds of hardware used to store the personal information. It includes sanitizing the hardware to completely remove the stored information. For hardware that cannot be sanitized, we may instead de-identify your personal information or put the information beyond use.​

If your information is stored in the cloud storage of our third party vendors, we will notify our vendor promptly to destroy or de-identify your personal information in the same, or a significantly similar, way.

COOKIES

A “cookie” is a small text file that may be placed on a computer by a web server. Our websites may use cookies which may enable us to identify you or your browser while you are using our site. These cookies may be permanently stored on a computer or are temporary session cookies. They are used for a variety of purposes, including security and personalisation of services. They are frequently used on websites and you can choose if and how a cookie will be accepted by configuring your preferences and options in your browser.

​All browsers allow you to be notified when you receive a cookie and you may elect to either accept it or not. If you wish not to accept a cookie, this may impact the effectiveness of the website. Your internet service provider or other IT service provider should be able to assist you with setting your preferences  

CROSS-BORDER DISCLOSURE

Depending on the type of service or product we provide to you, your personal information may be disclosed to our associated entities, contractors and unaffiliated service providers located in other overseas jurisdictions such as the United States, Europe and the Asia Pacific region (including, but not limited to, China, Hong Kong and Singapore). The overseas jurisdictions that your personal information is subject to cross border disclosure may change from time to time.

Where MAF Credit discloses your personal information to an overseas recipient, MAF Credit will take steps to ensure the overseas recipient does not breach the obligations outlined in this Privacy Policy, however MAF Credit may be unable to ensure the overseas recipient does not breach the Australian Privacy Principles in relation to your information.​

This may mean for information sent overseas you do not have the protections of, or any redress under, the Privacy Act. The overseas recipient may not be subject to privacy obligations equivalent to those under the Privacy Act and could be compelled by foreign law to make disclosure of the information. By using MAF Credit services you consent to MAF Credit making the disclosure to overseas recipients on this basis. We may also disclose your personal information when such disclosure of the information is required or authorised by or under an Australian law or a court/tribunal order.

ACCESS TO AND CORRECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION

We will give you access to your personal information within a reasonable time period in a manner requested by you. We may charge a reasonable fee to cover our costs. We may decline the access in the exceptional circumstances that are permitted under the Privacy Act. If this is the case we will inform you and explain the reasons why.​

We will take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information we collect, hold, use or disclose is accurate, complete, up to date, relevant and not misleading. Reasonable steps that we may take include updating your personal information from public sources such as a telephone directory.

Please be aware that you are also responsible to notify us of any incorrect personal information we may hold as promptly as possible.​

We will respond to your request to correct your personal information we hold within 30 calendar days after the request is made. There will be no charge for the making of any request. We may refuse to correct your personal information we hold about you if we do not agree with the corrections you have supplied. When we refuse your request, we will give you a written notice to that effect and an information statement if requested.

COMPLAINTS HANDLING

If you believe that we have mishandled your personal information, you may lodge a complaint with our Privacy Officer in writing, by mail or fax to the address or fax number set out at the end of this Policy. The Privacy Officer will acknowledge the receipt of your complaint as promptly as possible after we receive your complaint.

We will endeavor to investigate and resolve your complaint within 30 calendar days. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Information Commissioner by:​

Submitting an online form through the Information Commissioner’s website: www.oaic.gov.au

Submitting a hard copy form which can be obtained at https://forms.business.gov.au/smartforms/landing.htm?formCode=APC_PC

fax to 02 9284 9666

email at enquiries@oaic.gov.au  

CHANGES TO THIS POLICY

This Policy is subject to change from time to time as MAF Credit considers necessary. We will publish material changes by making them available on our website.​

The Privacy Officer
MAF Credit Pty LtdPO Box H360NSW 1215
Phone: 1800 319 289