Sadly, sometimes in life it can be hard to stand up and do the right thing, especially when everyone else seems content to ignore what you feel is wrong or immoral behavior. This is doubly true when this behavior is occurring in the workplace and those perpetrating it are your workplace superiors. Reporting illicit activity to the government is perhaps one of the hardest things that can be asked of a person, yet that is what courageous whistleblowers do every year. By standing up for their principles, these people place their lifestyle, livelihood, and careers in jeopardy for the abstract concept of right and wrong.

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In 2011 the SEC began a program to reward whistleblowers for doing just that. Since the program began less than a decade ago, 43 people have been awarded $153 million for tipping off the agency to serious misconduct. However, those numbers don’t tell the whole story and don’t begin to reflect the risks taken by these courageous individuals. Whistleblowers are looked upon as traitors by their former colleagues. There a substantial likelihood of the whistleblower being subjected to years of investigations, potentially being a target for retribution by their employer, or needing to find other employment.

The trials and tribulations of the whistleblower are exemplified in the story of Michael Lutz which was recently published by the New York Times. Mr. Lutz was an accounting specialist who identified fraud at his place of employment, a giant mortgage insurer called Radian Group. Mr Lutz voiced his concerns to his employers and rather than being rewarded his career went into a tailspin. Eventually he was encouraged to accept a severance package and seek other employment. However, the severance came with the condition he agree not to pursue any claims including a whistleblower claim against his former company.

This proposed severance from Radian Group was undoubtedly immoral and quite possibly illegal. Despite this, it was not the first time a company had attempted to protect itself on such a fashion nor is it likely to be the last. The intention of the offer is to force a potential whistleblower to choose between listening to their conscience and having the means to continue their life. In the modern world people shouldn’t have to choose between a livelihood and doing the right thing and litigation financing can prevent people from needing to make that choice.

Litigation financing companies view pending litigation as an asset which may mature at a later date, they may offer to unlock part of the value of that asset, if it meets certain criteria. Potential whistleblower claims are no different and indeed some companies such as IMF Bentham actually have programs designed to help whistleblowers bring claims forward.

Litigation funding could provide capital to pay for living expenses for whistleblowers while their case is pending. Generally speaking this funding is non-recourse so the plaintiff has no fear of being indebted to the company if the case is lost. Finally the legal advice and guidance of a funder can be obtained through a consultation which is generally free. This gives a plaintiff a clear understanding of their options at the outset. Whistleblower claims are yet another example of how, in the modern world when there is a mismatch in resources between potential litigants, litigation funding can even the odds.