Corporate general counsel indicate that the increasing number of class action lawsuits and a more litigious business environment were the most important issues impacting their companies.
Class action lawsuits were listed as the top litigation issue by respondents in the US, Canada and Australia.
Norton Rose Fulbright today released its 2015 Litigation Trends Annual Survey, polling more than 800 corporate counsel representing companies across 26 countries on disputes-related issues and concerns.
Litigious business environment
Gerry Pecht, Global Head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation, Norton Rose Fulbright, said, “What we are seeing is a direct response to the ever-broadening array of legal and regulatory challenges that companies face today. As the business environment becomes more complex, companies are spending more out of necessity to protect their interests and ensure that they are represented properly.”
A quarter of all respondents reported at least one class or group action against their companies in the preceding 12 months, with survey participants from the US comprising 80 percent of that number. And 71 percent of those who reported a class action had more than one filed against their companies in the previous 12 months.
US-based respondents also reported a more litigious business environment than their peers, with 55 percent facing more than five lawsuits filed against their companies in the previous 12 months. Just 18 percent of US companies reported no lawsuits.
One or more regulatory proceedings pending
Regulatory and investigations matters are a focus for in-house counsel, with 39 percent of respondents citing those issues as their top concern. Among companies with revenues of US$1 billion or more, 51 percent indicate they have one or more regulatory proceeding pending against them. Half of respondents indicate their company has retained outside counsel for assistance in a government or regulatory investigation. Across the entire sample, 44 percent of respondents indicate they have had at least one internal investigation requiring assistance of outside counsel in the previous 12 months.
In general, respondents expect the legal environment to continue to grow in complexity. Overall, 25 percent of respondents anticipate litigation against their companies increasing in the next 12 months, compared with just 14 percent who predict it will decrease. 22 percent increased the number of outside firms on their rosters in the past year. And half of all respondents have spent more time during the last three years addressing regulatory requests or enforcement proceedings.
Respondents were given a list of more than 20 categories of pending litigation their companies faced over the past 12 months, and asked to select the top three to five. Contracts, labor/employment and regulatory/investigations received the most selections from respondents, followed by personal injury and IP/patents.
For a link to the descriptive white paper go to: www.nortonrosefulbright.com/litigationtrends2015.