How Hedge Fund Managers Can Use Arbitration Provisions to Prevent Investor Class Action Lawsuits
By JOSHUA G. HAMILTON AND ADAM M. SEVELL
As can be expected during an economic downturn, hedge fund managers were not impervious to investor dissatisfaction following the 2008 financial crisis. In some instances, this dissatisfaction resulted in litigation. A recent trend is for investors to threaten to bring their claims as a class action, which not only carries the possibility of exponentially increasing potential damages, but also harming the reputation of the manager and its ability to raise capital in the future. Nearly all fund governing documents contain arbitration provisions that require any and all claims relating to investment accounts to be arbitrated in private, confidential proceedings. However, most arbitration provisions contained in fund governing documents are silent on the availability of class arbitration, and this issue is significant for hedge fund managers to consider both retrospectively and prospectively in drafting their governing documents.