Back in July 2017 we reported the launch of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales. This month saw the opening of the court in Bristol last week an event which saw both the Lord Chief Justice, Ian Duncan Burnett and the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Geoffrey Vos give speeches.
Lord Chief Justice
The Lord Chief Justice spoke about the purpose of the courts and how the new arrangements allow for greater flexibility in the cross-deployment of judges with suitable experience to sit on appropriate business and property cases. He considered the establishment of the centres to be ‘of great importance’ to the delivery of justice across the country and he believes it will mean litigants will not feel it necessary to issue in London or use London lawyers, however complex or large the litigation.
The Lord Chief Justice also commented that the new courts mean the judiciary can develop judicial and professional expertise across the country, increasing the attractiveness of each of the Business and Property Courts’ centres and ‘It means that claims will be capable of being resolved locally in the best possible forum.’ The regional centres, working in close connection with the Rolls Building, will ensure that courts can enable claims to be managed and tried in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. In this way, the Chief Justice says the Business and Property Courts working together across the jurisdiction will enable our courts not only to meet the challenges it faces, but also play their part in providing access to justice in support of the rule of law.
The speech is available here.
Sir Geoffrey Vos
Sir Geoffrey Vos in his speech made reference to the fact that as we leave the EU it is important to show that we offer world class dispute resolution services. A number of EU countries have set up commercial courts operating using the English language but, in his view, the introduction of the new Business and Property courts ‘will lead to a rejuvenation of English business and property law on which so much of the commercial community has for so long relied’. He also made reference to work being done as a consequence of Brexit and the fact that English law is a common law jurisdiction based on judge made rules which will not be affected by leaving the EU.
He noted that the new arrangements of the Rolls Building working alongside regional centres aims to provide equal quality of across England and Wales‘ for the benefit of international and domestic enterprises‘ and that no case will be too large to try in one of the regional courts. His speech also considered the practical consequence of the introduction of the new courts and the fact that there is already a new Business and Property Courts practice direction which includes County Court work that is to be regarded as work of the Business and Property Courts.
The speech is available here.
The Regional Centres
The courts in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester have already been launched. The coming weeks will see the launch of the court in Liverpool and Newcastle.