Thursday, October 12, 2006

Survey: Litigation Becoming Part of Doing Business

The law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski recently published it's third annual survey of corporate litigation trends, where 422 in-house law departments worldwide were interviewed. The survey found that U.S. companies face an average of 305 pending lawsuits internationally, and for large U.S. companies (those with $1 billion or more in annual gross revenue) the number of lawsuits climbed to 556 cases, with an average of 50 new disputes emerging each year for close to half of them.

While previous surveys found that U.S.-based litigation was more predominant, the number of international disputes has started to climb – more than one-third of companies said that up to 20 percent of their dockets originate in foreign venues. Also, the companies aren't only appearing as defendants in the lawsuits - 70% of the in-house counsel surveyed claimed that their companies initiated at least one new lawsuit in the past year as plaintiff.

One third of all companies, and nearly 40 percent of $1 billion-plus firms, project the amount of litigation to increase next year.

When asked to identify their greatest litigation concerns, despite the recent publicity generated over investigations into stock options backdating, companies say their no.1 litigation fear stems from labor and employment claims, followed by contract disputes, followed by regulatory actions, patent and other intellectual property suits, and class actions.

One surveyor commented that the study "[r]eveals how thoroughly litigation is woven into U.S. corporate culture – the sheer number of cases and huge slice of spending taken up by lawsuits make abundantly clear that litigated disputes are a fundamental part of doing business."

Story from the Insurance Journal here.

For copies of the survey, see here.

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