London lawyers have urged the government to take urgent action to protect the Capital’s litigation crown.
Amid growing concern about London’s status as a pre-eminent litigation forum, more than a quarter of litigators taking part in the Litigation Trends survey, published this week, believe the Capital’s disputes market will decline in the next year. More than half (53%) predict a significant flight of work from the UK to other jurisdictions post Brexit. 80% want the government to take urgent, or very urgent, preventive action.
The survey, by the London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) and NLJ, reveals a range of views about the cause of the fall in confidence. Some think Brexit will decrease UK litigation, others that it will both increase and decrease it but in different ways.
The impact of the state of the economy, and other factors, also divides opinion. Some respondents cite this as a reason for their lack of optimism in the future of the London disputes market, as the challenging market conditions bring a ‘pressure to decrease legal spend’. Others believe the state of the economy ‘will give rise to more disputes’ over the next year.
Julian Acratopulo, LSLA President and Clifford Chance partner, said: ‘The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit is clearly perceived as a negative factor and whilst that uncertainty remains, London litigators will continue to look anxiously at the implications for the market over the next few years. Clearly resolving the position in relation to the future recognition of the jurisdiction of London’s courts and its decisions so as to maintain something resembling the status quo, would go a long way in addressing market jitters.’
The survey also asked litigators about witness statements—about 60% believe procedural change is required, while one quarter of respondents believe applying the current procedure more rigorously in practice would resolve the problem. Suggested adjustments include limiting the length of witness statements to no more than two pages, relying more on evidence in chief, and eradicating or reducing duplication of evidence across pleadings, disclosure and witness statements.
Download the attached pdf to read the survey findings in full.