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Claire Van Der ZantNov-29 20235 min read

Global Class Actions Symposium 2023: Payments panel

Claire Van der Zant, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Shieldpay, chaired the Payments session at the Global Class Actions Symposium 2023, discussing key challenges and best practice for managing payments for claimants.

Claire was joined on stage by Polly Blenkin, Senior Partner at Milberg London LLP, and Clinton Smith, Co-founder and CIO of Case Pilots, bringing together key voices from across the class actions ecosystem. 


Claire Van der Zant discusses payments for claimants with Polly Blenkin and Clinton Smith on stage at the Global Class Actions Symposium 2023



Summary of the conversation: 

The morning sessions of Day 1 of the conference spoke through most of the lifecycle of a class action, leading to our panel session in the afternoon which completed the series and focused on the final piece of the class-actions jigsaw: payments.

Claire started the conversation by setting the scene. The discussion is about the more "practical" end of litigation, which she explained is the most exciting part because it is the "culmination of all the work that [litigators] do getting justice into the hands of people who really need it the most". 

And, she explained that the focus of the conversation was on the GLO space where, in the UK, we already have a strong understanding and case studies of delivering significant settlements and payments. 

A core focus of the conversation is around debunking the myth that payments are the easy part. They can be. But, quoting an earlier panel session that day and the comment from Chris Ford of Blackhawk, we need to "collaborate early and collaborate often".




Challenges in receiving payment information:

  • Reflecting on a recent case, Polly shared that a big challenge for her has been persuading individuals to share basic payment details to receive their rightful compensation - not just because of the administrative burden but because they are wary of disclosing this information, even with their law firm and for a higher value payout. 

Efficiency concerns:

While it is in everyone’s interest that payments be disbursed as quickly and efficiently as possible, it is not always as simple as it first might seem.
  • Clinton emphasised the short timeline inherent in handling payments, telling the audience “we have to do it sharp and quick.”
  • The panel covered several barriers to efficiency, including the requirement to pay funds via cheques where older generations of claimants are not using online banking, or in jurisdictions where there is not access to digital payment methods. 
  • Polly recognised the need to have payment knowledge and understanding when undertaking these cases: “Someone needs to practically understand how you’re going to pay your clients".


"Transparency is key"

  • Claire stressed the importance of transparency in the process and clear communication between parties in the transaction.
  • Confusion among individuals, especially those unfamiliar with legal processes, can hamper the payments process.
  • Clinton added to this point, explaining that the key to transparency is the data: "One of the challenges we have, every week or two, law firms and other entities want to know what’s going on.” Smith confesses: “The bane of my life is the spreadsheets."


Commercial Dispute Resolution wrote a full summary of the day, touching on key points from our panel session. Read their article here: https://www.cdr-news.com/categories/litigation/19724-settlements-payments-and-regulatory-enforcement 



About The Global Class Actions Symposium

The Legal Helm is Helm360's podcast on all things Legal and Tech. Each episode explores topics like A.I., application management systems, fully remote law-firm management, legal tech, remote work, and much more.


Claire Van der Zant, Chair

Claire Van Der Zant is Director of Strategic Partnerships at Shieldpay, responsible for developing relationships with financial institutions, legal firms and technology businesses to advance and innovate high-value payment solutions for clients globally.


Polly Blenkin, Panellist

Polly is a senior partner at Milberg London, a claimant group action firm. Polly began her career as a transactional lawyer working on commercial real estate debt securitisations, loan servicing, structured finance and restructuring deals, before becoming a litigator at Mishcon de Reya. Polly now specialises in group claims against large institutional defendants and is part of the team at Milberg London acting on behalf of over 100,000 motorists in various emissions claims. Polly also continues to work on general commercial disputes and investigations within Milberg London’s private client practice.

Polly is mentioned in the Legal500’s 2022 Firms to Watch category for Commercial Litigation: Premium. In 2022, Polly was named as one of three finalists in the Solicitor of the Year category at The Inspiration Women in Law Awards. Polly was also a finalist for the Law Firm Leader of the Year (Small-to-Medium-Sized Practice) in the Women and Diversity in Law Awards 2023.

Outside of the law, Polly is also a founding committee member for The AdAmi Project and serves on the charity’s board of trustees.


Clinton Smith, Panellist

Clinton Smith (CIO), is an accomplished developer with over 15 years’ experience designing, developing and maintaining robust technical solutions and workflows to support collective actions – including development of case management applications, information gathering web interfaces, sophisticated quantum calculation programs and document management/review tools.

In addition to providing litigation support services to law firms, Clinton has worked with advertising and marketing executives handling high-through-put applications delivering location-based advertising and reporting.  Clinton has also worked with corporate clients and their lawyers analysing extensive, fragmented data sets from various sources in support of multi-party actions.

As a Microsoft Certified Professional, he brings extensive expertise in crafting technical solutions and case management databases to facilitate mass claim administration in the UK and Europe. With more than five years of specialised cloud computing experience, he excels in Microsoft’s Azure Platform, particularly focusing on data protection and security.

His combined experience in both sectors is invaluable in designing notice and administration programs that are accessible to class members and drive participation.

All recordings from the conference can be view on the Global Legal Group YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/@globallegalgroup8621