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Archive for August, 2017

Changes at court

Judicial concern about ‘Brexit’ and its effect upon the competitiveness of UK jurisdictions and dispute resolution systems in the face of international competition led to the establishment of the Brexit Law Committee.  The Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Geoffrey Vos, stated in June that the Committee would develop strategies with Government for maintaining and enhancing the utilisation, after Brexit, of English law and UK legal services, including all forms of dispute resolution.  Speaking to the Faculty of Advocates, he said the elephant in the room is “the competition the UK jurisdictions and English and Scots law face from other jurisdictions keen to attract commercial business away from the UK“.  Nevertheless, he continued, English law will remain a popular choice if not ‘the gold standard’ but “we cannot, however, just rest on our laurels“.  IT and the court system itself will need to change.

The first visible change was the launch, on 4 July, of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales at which the Lord Chancellor, the Rt Hon David Lidlington MP stated “We’re here in this magnificent building in the heart of The City [Rolls Buildings] … and I suppose what we see here is the dignity and authority of our historic law courts married to the cutting-edge technology of the digital age.  And  what we’ve got, as a result, is a set-up that is state-of-the-art; that is specialist; that meets the challenges of handling litigation in the 21st century.”

Fine words and sentiments but is it what the law practitioner sees?  Sadly, often it is not.  The court administration will need to change if stories of lost and mislaid files, long and unnecessary adjournments and wasted costs are not to continue to circulate.

But the newly named courts herald reform and, says the Lord Chancellor, “bring a welcome clarity to the focus and range of legal services that the UK offers at the highest level.  A more integrated system of business and property courts will mean judges can be cross-deployed to maximise the benefit of their particular qualifications.”  These courts will not just be located in London but will be in other cities, too.  We wait with interest to see how they develop.