Daniel Dunne summarises his 5 key takeaways from the conversation he had with Clare Ducksbury, Founder and CEO of Case Pilots, on the inaugural episode of the Shieldcast Class Actions series.
We are so pleased to be back with Shieldcast, our podcast in which we speak to partners, clients and Shieldpay friends about the latest industry news, developments and general market insights. We have relaunched the podcast to focus on different aspects of the fast-evolving class action market and invite industry leaders to speak about what they have experienced to date and where they envision the regime to be headed, in the UK and globally.
We were honoured to have Clare Ducksbury join us for the inaugural episode of our Class Action series. Clare set up Case Pilots, an acclaimed provider of claims administration services, just under six years ago and is the CEO of the company. She has a global view of the market having advised the International Criminal Court in The Hague and set up and managed the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Holocaust Dormant Bank Accounts in Switzerland – which she goes into more detail on in the episode.
In this episode we focus in on Clare’s knowledge of the technology that underpins the industry and discuss the role is plays in the development of the class action regime. Here are a few of the key insights she shared in our conversation:
1. Planning ahead to use technology to solve key pain points in the class action process
“Back in 1998, we were designing the technology to try and put out fires as we went along the way. Now, we pre-empt those fires and don't even let them begin”
In the episode, Clare took us back to 1998 to discuss how technology has evolved since her first involvement in an international class action. She drew on her experience as the project manager of the Claims Resolution Tribunal for the Holocaust related dormant accounts in Switzerland:
“That was really my first taste of the interaction between technology and a legal service because that project was set up to distribute $1.25 billion from a class action in New York. It covered 27 countries, so it was completely global. We were administering claims in 20 different languages and doing a pretty good job of it, if I say so myself. None of that would've been possible without the technology that really underpins the whole process.”
Looking back at that time, Clare realised that although the technology was absolutely essential to the success of the process, they were “building it on demand to meet the needs of the litigation as it was proceeding”.
Now, fast-forwarding 20 years or so, we have a different approach to the implementation of digital tools to support the process. We “do more forward thinking into the likely requirements and challenges...and we can actually build the technology in anticipation of those”.
Over recent years, law firms, case administrators and technology providers have begun to come together ahead of these cases being filed to consider the end-to-end journey of the claimant and how technology can be used to make that process faster, easier and more secure.
2. Meeting claimant expectations
“In a lot of cases, the law firm are trying to connect with digital users, people that are digital savvy…especially when you look at the cases that are emerging against the big tech companies, the Facebooks and the Googles, and the PlayStations of this world.”
Consumer expectations have changed profoundly as more and more services have become digitised. Online shopping, online banking, streaming services, even more basic things like email and social media, have fundamentally changed the way we live our everyday lives.
People in the UK no longer expect to have to hold on a phone line, fill out and mail paper forms or go into a bank to process a cheque. These methods are, however, still commonplace in legal services.
Law firms managing mass litigation cases must now reconsider their processes to better connect and become attuned with their clients to ensure a successful claim. This is especially the case with opt-in actions as many people will not engage with the case unless it is easy and convenient – a real opportunity for increased digitisation.
3. Delivering consistency, auditability, reportability and defensibility.
Clare offers four “key strands” of what technology offers in a claim:
Technology can be used to achieve uniformity throughout the proceedings and ensure there are no human errors or biases applied. Clare used the example of setting a rule that everyone who was born before a certain date is not eligible to join the claim. Using technology, you are able to apply that rule and only select people who meet that criteria to pass through to join the group.
“It's important for the law firm to be able to show that they are treating all of their clients fairly. But it's also important for the claimant community to be able to look at their counterparts and know that they're all being treated fairly.”
A critical point to running a case is documenting and recording every detail of the claimant journey. Regulators, defendants, courts and claimants may all challenge the process and legal teams must be able to provide evidence or justify their actions.
Clare explained that digital tools provide a “really robust audit train that you can always go back to”. By managing the full process through technology, lawyers are able to easily organise client files and can, at any given point in time, say what data updates occurred, by who and when.
Following on from the audit trail, Clare explained the importance of being able to adequately deal with defendants' arguments in court:
“Time and time again, defendants will challenge the way in which you've onboarded your clients, the way in which you've found your clients, the way in which you've gathered information from your clients, the way in which you've used the information or data that you've gathered from your clients”
The ability to record all of this information as you go along is so important to be able to provide a robust rebuttal to any of these challenges and prevent the case being dismissed.
Building up a database of information about the claim proceedings and the class enables legal teams to be able to “slice and dice the data” and “group claimants based on certain characteristics of their claim”. This data capture, manipulation and reporting capability gives greater insight on the width and depth of the claim and can be invaluable in helping lawyers to progress cases.
4. Educating the public
As a relatively new and still changing regime in the UK and Europe, both law firms and technology partners need to play an active role in educating consumers on what class actions are and how they work.
Clare explained that Case Pilots does a lot to get claimants “familiar with class actions” and answer questions not only around the risk and the cost to individuals but more fundamentally what the regime looks like and how it compares to others. She made the point that in the US “you could probably speak to any consumer on the street, and they would immediately know what a class action is”. In the UK, we are still in a relatively nascent stage of development of the regime.
“I think over time we will become more and more accustomed to, culturally, the concept of class actions.”
5. Taking a collaborative approach
Clare raised the point that technology vendors aren’t just suppliers and third parties to the industry, but they can have a big impact on the regime as it develops. Going forward, law firms and technology partners need to be working hand in hand to implement new technologies but also on a more macro level to support the long-term evolution of the regime.
“We always say to our law firm clients, don't think of us as a service provider, think of us as your consultant in this.
We have as much of a vested interest as you do in this because, it sounds very idealistic, of course, but this is all for the greater good of promoting the use of class actions within our jurisdiction.”
It was a pleasure, as always, to speak to Clare and delve more into her past experience as well as what drove her to set up Case Pilots and what keeps her team busy these days. A key takeaway for me is her ethos, as she put it, a “desire to find a way to make sure legal services are being properly delivered to claimants via the wonder of technology”.
We have come together with Case Pilots to partner exactly with this in mind. We are now working in collaboration with Clare and the team to streamline the claimant journey and provide greater security in their compensation award payout process. By integrating our digital platforms, claimants are gaining greater ease and comfort throughout the litigation process, as well as a faster speed of redress with compensation payments made directly into their bank accounts. You can find out more about our partnership here.
If you want to hear more from Clare and further detail on these key points from our conversation, click below to stream the episode 👇