Friday 5 June 2009

Afternoon roundup

  • Radley Balko continues to provide reasons for us to stay angry
    The blood-boiling story of the day comes from San Francisco:
    He sleeps under a bridge, washes in a public bathroom and was panhandling for booze money 11 months ago, but now Larry Moore is the best-dressed shoeshine man in the city. When he gets up from his cardboard mattress, he puts on a coat and tie. It’s a reminder of how he has turned things around.

    In fact, until last week it looked like Moore was going to have saved enough money to rent a room and get off the street for the first time in six years. But then, in a breathtakingly clueless move, an official for the Department of Public Works told Moore that he has to fork over the money he saved for his first month’s rent to purchase a $491 sidewalk vendor permit.
    It just gets worse from there.
  • Cory Doctorow continues to be the best thing happening over at BoingBoing, today pointing us to this obscenity, which he'd previously considered for a sci fi story before finding out it's already fact:
    Richard W. Fields says he has come up with a win-win financial strategy for the downturn. He is investing in lawsuits.

    Not in trip-and-fall cases, mind you, but in disputes that are far larger, more costly and potentially more lucrative, often pitting major corporations against each other.

    Mr. Fields is chief executive of Juridica Capital Management. which runs a fund that invests in one side of a lawsuit in exchange for a share of any winnings.

    “It’s always a good time to invest in litigation,” Mr. Fields said, though he added that the weak economy helped. “When the recession started to bite, the phones started ringing off the hook. Last year, we looked at 122 cases and we made 17 investments.” A small but growing number of investors are exploring this idea, helping companies avoid some of the risks and costs of litigation in exchange for part of any money paid out when the case is settled or resolved by a court. After all, it can be costly to hire lawyers, who may charge close to $1,000 an hour at the most elite firms.
    In a sane tort system, this would be efficiency-augmenting. But we're not in that world.
  • Brad Taylor continues to remind us of the dangers posed by landlubbers' meddlesome preferences for any proposed Seasteads.


  1. You know, litigation funding is just starting to come into New Zealand as well, see:

  2. Thanks! I'll have to think more on it, but it seems less likely to do harm here as tort seems pretty limited in NZ. On the other hand, this kind of financing is broadly a substitute for class-action suits, which are also more difficult here. Hmm. Sounds like the kind of thing that could be set as an honours project.