Helping investors fund lawsuits with real impact
No Impunity connects impact investors with litigation that really matters
I came across the world of litigation finance a few years ago, and I was struck by how similar it is to VC, but with lawsuits instead of startups.
Today’s startup has a fresh spin on the concept, with a real focus on making a positive impact on the world while serving a growing market.
Scroll down to read all about No Impunity.
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No Impunity wants to help investors fund lawsuits with a real impact
Impunity is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “exemption or freedom from punishment, harm, or loss”.
And if you’re talking about corporate human rights abuses or environmental damage, impunity for perpetrators is a bad thing for society and the planet.
Enter No Impunity, a London-based startup that exists to make it more straightforward to bring legal action in human rights and climate-related cases.
It does this by connecting impact-focused investors with litigants to provide funding for cases, and allow them to manage evidence, and make it easier to report on the impact of the injustice they faced and the justice they hopefully receive.
If you’ve never come across litigation finance before, it’s a bit like VC for lawsuits. Investors stump up the cash to bring legal action, essentially gambling on a win in court, from which they will take a cut of the proceeds.
No Impunity aims to make it easier to apply this model to cases that defend the rights of the underrepresented.
The startup is currently building its tech platform to power its process, but in the meantime is running in a more manual way, on a philanthropic basis, while it validates the model.
Co-founders Aurélia Le Frapper and Yanis Lunetta say they are currently testing the process with two cases - one against two energy companies operating in Brazil, and another against a development finance institution accused of causing harm to a community in Southeast Asia.
“We operate at the intersection of two markets,” says Lunetta.
“We have litigation financing, which is increasingly turning to ESG litigation financing as corporations become increasingly accountable for their wrongdoings. And on the other side, we have the impact investors who want to generate financial and social gains.”
How it works
Le Frapper says that once the tech platform is ready, law firms and NGOs looking to bring cases will be able to apply for funding, which will involve filling in a form and uploading evidence for No Impunity to assess.
The portal will allow for the creation of detailed reports about how claimants have been impacted by the case before litigation, during litigation, and after it. Impact reports for cases funded through No Impunity will be hosted on the platform.
“NGOs and litigation funders will be able to assess the impact of each case they are trying to undertake. Once they can actually showcase impact, NGOs can report back to the stakeholders saying ‘We've made this much impact, this is why we need more grants’, and litigation funders can source different capital to fund cases,” explains Le Frapper.
The litigation funders they intend to work with will be both institutional funds and retail investors.
“The important thing to note is that we are not a fund, but we're instead an exchange or broker,” says Lunetta.
“Our mission is to facilitate connections between impact investors and litigants, as opposed to holding the cash and then redeploying it. So we're not selling equity in a fund, we don't securitise. We’re making it so that the whole regulatory hurdle of building such a thing, and making it accessible to retail investors is lowered.”
And Lunetta notes that financial return is not the only incentive for impact-focused investors to work with No Impunity.
“We realised by talking to tens of NGOs and funders that while we cannot guarantee financial return [because any financial return ultimately depends on the decision of the court], we can guarantee a more thorough way to track impact. That is for impact investors still a form of return that is highly valued.”
The story so far
Le Frapper and Lunetta met as students at University College London. But it’s their activities beyond their education that led them towards founding No Impunity.
Lunetta worked as a fundraiser for advocacy NGOs, and as a caseworker assistant with NGOs in the Middle East, helping victims of corporate abuse.
Meanwhile, Le Frapper worked in the microfinance space before moving on to become a financial and business analyst for companies including Amazon, and has been working with the UN to build a data literacy tool to empower women to take ownership back of their data.
The two backgrounds–fixing corporate harm and microfinance–blended to create the idea behind No Impunity, which they started work on in summer 2022. The startup is currently a team of eight people covering tech development, legal, and comms.
Comms might seem an odd focus for such an early-stage company, but Le Frapper believes PR and communications outreach is key to making sure relevant people are aware of what they do, and why they’re different.
After they complete the first version of their software, the next stage will be to launch an escrow fund that will allow them to onboard impact investors to their software.
Once fully built, the platform will offer dedicated portals for each type of stakeholder they work with, offering impact assessments tailored to their needs. It will provide a summary of the cases they’re involved with as well as a community portal for each case.
Le Frapper says this community portal is intended to give more of a voice in the legal process to the communities this kind of litigation supports.
“For us it’s about being able to build tech where the communities can be onboarded and share their evidence, but also share through their voices the impact they faced.”
Le Frapper says this is important to help with compiling all of the qualitative data needed to build impact assessments and data that can then be given to NGOs and other stakeholders.
Go deeper on No Impunity
Read much more about their funding and investment plans, vision, competition, and challenges: