For almost four years, London litigators have enjoyed the use of the Rolls Building for their hearings before the Chancery Division, the Commercial Court and the Technology and Construction Court. Those who remember nursing their sore backsides after a day sitting on the Victorian benches in the Thomas More Building of the Royal Courts of Justice would likely agree that the physical facilities of the Rolls Building at last provide an appropriate setting for the world-class judges who sit there.
London should consider doing more in order to maintain its traditional preeminence as the global centre for the resolution of commercial disputes, both through litigation and arbitration. Snapping at its heels in recent years to attract parties to commercial disputes subject to English law have been the Dubai International Arbitration Centre, the Delhi International Arbitration Centre, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and, most recently, the Singapore International Commercial Court. For an analysis of the offerings of the newly opened Singapore International Commercial Court, please see the article, "The Singapore International Commercial Court ('SICC') – Asia's Neutral Court," which is on the Duane Morris & Selvam website at:http://www.duanemorrisselvam.com/news_singapore_international_commercial_court.html.
London's response to raising its game has been the Rolls Building Financial List Initiative. A Working Group is now considering responses to the consultation proposals, which include:
- a new specialist list for financial lists claims with adapted procedures from the Commercial Courts Guide;
- those financial lists claims would include claims relating to loans, project finance, banking transactions, derivatives, financial benchmarks, bank guarantees, bonds, private equity deals, hedge fund disputes, sovereign debt and clearing and settlement—where the value is more than £50 million (or its currency equivalent) or is otherwise ordered into the list;
- the financial list would cover claims requiring particular expertise in the financial markets or which raise issues of general importance in the financial markets;
- cases would be assigned to a docketed judge, who will sit throughout the life of the case;
- in what may be considered the most innovative of the proposals, the Market Case Test Procedure would enable interested parties to bring issues before the court on which they need authoritative English law guidance, even where there is no dispute before the courts and without any risk of adverse legal costs orders.
The proposals meet the challenge set by the Lord Chief Justice, in his speech announcing the consultation, that our courts must seek enhanced ways to provide fast, efficient and economical dispute resolution.
An update will be provided as soon as the Working Party publishes its recommendations.