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Maintenance and champerty

Maintenance, in the context of litigation, is the assistance of a third party having no direct interest in the outcome of the case. It was perceived as meddling and likely to encourage frivolous litigation.

Champerty is the direct financing or support of a case in which one has no legitimate interest, with a view to getting a share of the proceedings. It used to be regarded as improper to profit from another’s vindication of their rights.

Both maintenance and champerty were seen as a serious abuse of process, and were categorised as both crimes and torts at common law, until their abolition by sections 13 and 14 of the Criminal Law Act 1967. 

It is now common for a third party to provide litigation funding where a claimant cannot afford to pursue a meritorious claim.