Out-Law News 1 min. read

Launch of Business and Property Courts to improve links between regions

The launch of the new Business and Property Courts will lead to more specialist disputes being heard in England and Wales' regional justice centres, an expert has said.

Litigation expert Andrew Herring of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, was speaking after an official "launch" event for the renamed and reorganised courts, which took place in London this week. Launches will also take place in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff before the end of the month. The new structure will be operational as of 2 October 2017.

Herring said that replacing the "antiquated" names used by the specialist civil courts and lists would make the court system "more widely recognised on an international basis". At the same time, extending the same names to the regional justice centres would "end the perceived 'two-tier' approach" between the London courts and those in the regions.

The changes were, however, "not just a name change", he said. "Rationalising the court rules in the future should give regional businesses every confidence that there is no case that is too big to be resolved in their local civil justice centres, as opposed to the current tendency to issue the most complex and high value claims in London," he said.

Once the new system is up and running, the 'Business and Property Courts' name will be used as a single umbrella term for the specialist business courts and lists across England and Wales. It will cover the Commercial Court, including the Admiralty Court and the old Mercantile Court; the Technology and Construction Court; and the various courts of the Chancery Division, including those dealing with financial services, intellectual property, competition and insolvency cases.

The new system will preserve the existing practices, procedures and staffing arrangements of the existing courts, while making it easier for judges with suitable expertise and experience to sit on appropriate cases regardless of where they are heard. Currently, judges who are experts in a particular area of law cannot easily sit on cases if they are scheduled in another court, even if the dispute is within their area of expertise.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court, said that one the changes were in place "the specialist jurisdictions of our courts will all be using names that national and international business people can readily understand".

"The judges of the Business and Property Courts are high calibre, forward looking people, who understand the importance of providing a state of the art service to court users," he said.

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