Business specialist courts to be restructured under a new umbrella

From June 2017, the civil courts are to be restructured and rebranded.

Currently there are a series of specialist court lists of the High Court which include the following:

  • The Commercial Court, (including the Admiralty Court and Mercantile Court),
  • The Technology and Construction Court,
  • The Courts of the Chancery Division which include:
  • The Patents Court
  • The Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court
  • The Competition List
  • The Financial List
  • The Companies and Insolvency Court those dealing with financial services, competition, insolvency and intellectual property law.

The name for the newly structured Court will be The Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.

The purpose of the changes were summarised by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, who 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.” 

The move was supported by the Lord Chancellor, Elizabeth Truss who said:

“I strongly support the changes the Lord Chief Justice, Chancellor of the High Court and President of the Queen’s Bench Division are taking forward.  It is absolutely vital legal services continued to lead the world and remain the first choice for the business.  These Business and Property Courts will be based in our great cities across England and Wales supporting businesses across the country.”

Currently, High Court judges are appointed to the specific divisions within the court structure and there have been barriers preventing judges moving from one Court to another.  The new structure changes this allocation ensuring that all specialist civil courts will be able to draw on the judicial resources available where that might be appropriate. This flexible cross deployment of judges with suitable expertise and experience also supports the move of the Business and Property Courts to Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and in Cardiff, with expansions to Newcastle and Liverpool due to follow.  Parties to a dispute will no longer be forced to issue claims in the High Court in London to benefit from specialist judges.  From June, judges will travel as appropriate extending the reach of the dispute resolution beyond London centric.  This decentralisation will mean that there is no longer a need to travel to London to litigate unless it makes sense to do so.

Further updates shall follow nearer to June.