Today (1 October 2015), a new financial court list (the List) will be introduced to bridge the work of the Commercial Court and Chancery Divisions. The List will allow for high value and complex financial disputes to be allocated between a small selection of specialist judges. This List is designed to meet the needs of the changing international financial markets and reflects a growing trend of arbitral institutions and courts across the world to promote their rules and facilities as offering the pre-eminent mechanism for resolving banking and finance disputes.
The List comes a few months after Lord Chief Justice Thomas announced, at the Annual Mansion House Judicial Speech on 8 July 2015, that the judges of the Commercial Court and Chancery Division are ready to introduce a specialist financial court for financial service disputes.
- A specialist list focusing on disputes arising in financial markets.
- Uniting the expertise of Commercial Court and Chancery Division it will be governed by the new CPR Part 61A, Practice Directions 51M and 63AA and a set of updated court forms in electronic format.1
- There will be 10 judges presiding over the List (five from the Commercial Court and five from the Chancery Division). Cases will be allocated a judge who will manage the case through from inception to final determination.
- An innovative test case procedure will allow a cost-effective and expedited consideration of claims to resolve market issues where there is no previous authoritative English law precedent.
The List will be available for claims:
- of more than £50 million which relate to, for example loans, project finance, banking transactions, derivatives and complex financial products, financial benchmarks, capital or currency controls, bank guarantees, bonds, debt securities, private equity deals, hedge fund disputes, sovereign debt, or clearing and settlement (CPR Part 63A); or
- those which require particular expertise in financial markets2 or raise issues of general importance to the domestic and international financial markets.
The introduction of the List has to be seen within wider international developments within the sphere of dispute management: it is undoubtedly London’s attempt to compete with its rivals in Dubai and Hong Kong.
Whilst the List will certainly reduce the burden on the current lists in the Commercial and Chancery Courts it remains to be seen whether the List will offer anything new and/or can combat perceived disadvantages with litigation. With the English Civil Procedure Rules Part 8 procedure and declaratory relief already offering means to allow parties to ask for authoritative guidance from the Courts, whether the test case procedure offers anything further is still to be determined. Ultimately, whether the List will achieve the objectives it seeks to attain will be answered when claims commence.