Law Firm Investigations Grow More Prevalent as Suits Decline, Study Shows
By Cullen Wheatley – Oct 18, 2011 12:01 AM ET
U.S. and U.K. businesses are going to court less while being subjected to more regulatory actions and internal probes, according to a litigation trend survey by Houston-based law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.
Forty percent of respondents reported an increase in regulatory actions and internal investigations in the 2011 survey, compared with 37 percent of respondents in 2010. The increase in investigations and regulatory actions is part of a three-year trend, according to the report. That figure was 34 percent in 2009.
The survey gathered responses from 405 in-house corporate counsel. Of those, 275 were in the U.S. while 130 were in the U.K.
Seventy-three percent of U.K. respondents reported lawsuits filed against them in 2011, compared with 75 percent in 2010. U.S. respondents saw the figure drop from 87 percent to 83 percent.
Fewer than 31 percent of U.S. respondents said there would be an increase in litigation within the next year, according to the survey. Seventeen percent of U.K. respondents expressed that view. Cases stemming from stricter regulation and company growth were thought to be the biggest reasons for the increase.
The technology, retail and insurance sectors saw a rise in suits brought against them, according to the survey. Energy and manufacturing reported a decrease, and financial services showed no change.
Fifty-two percent of U.S. corporations reported that they were likely to become plaintiffs compared with 60 percent in 2010. There was an increase in the U.K. from 36 percent last year to 42 percent this year.
Labor and employment and contract suits were the most common types of litigation for corporate counsel respondents, according to the study.
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