Lord Chief Justice unveils ‘Business and Property Courts of England and Wales’

Rolls Building: all its courts to be under umbrella title

The specialist civil courts are to be known as the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales from this June as part of the push to maintain the jurisdiction’s international reputation post-Brexit.

The move, which has the “strong support” of Lord Chancellor Liz Truss, will also enable “more flexible cross-deployment of judges with suitable expertise and experience” to sit on appropriate business and property cases, the judiciary said today in a statement.

The umbrella title, which incorporates the Rolls Building in London and many judges in the specialist district registries of the High Court outside of London, will cover: the Commercial Court, the Admiralty Court, the Technology and Construction Court, the Financial List, the Companies and Insolvency Court, the Patents Court, the Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court, and the Competition List.

Other courts and lists will be added in future to include the existing business and property cases in the Chancery Division.

There will also be Business and Property Courts in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and in Cardiff, with expansions to Newcastle and Liverpool likely in the future, so as to “enhance the connection between the specialist business and property work undertaken in the regions and in London”.

Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, said: “The judiciary is committed to maintaining Britain’s reputation as the best place in the world for court-based dispute resolution. These changes will ensure that our courts and judiciary continue to lead the world in this field.”

Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, said: “Cross deployment of judges across the Chancery and Queen’s Bench Divisions for the purposes of the Financial List has demonstrated the real value of flexible deployment in appropriate cases. This development will be of benefit both to the courts and the users of the courts.”

Currently, the judiciary statement said, judges who are experts in a particular area “are not readily deployed to sit in cases in that area in another court”.

For example, competition law judges in the Queen’s Bench Division cannot easily sit on the bulk of competition law cases that take place either in the Chancery Division or in the Competition Appeals Tribunal.

Gary Campkin, director of policy and strategy at lobbying group TheCityUK, said: “This is a forward-looking decision, indicative of the judiciary’s determination to ensure that Britain’s legal system remains world-leading and at the forefront of dispute resolution globally. It also gives greater clarity to users about the focus and coverage of legal services available at the courts.

“The UK is the largest specialist centre for the resolution of financial, business and property litigation anywhere in the world. But high value commercial dispute resolution is a competitive legal service, and other jurisdictions are vying to take Britain’s crown.

“It is essential to ensure this country remains the jurisdiction of choice for international business and for dispute resolution.”

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