Bankruptcy and insolvency cases will be dealt with by the Business and Property Courts from 2 October 2017.
Insolvency Practitioners will welcome the change, which will enable insolvency litigation to be dealt with in a more efficient and cost effective manner in the regional centres.
The Business and Property Courts bring together the specialist civil courts of the Chancery Division, including the District Registries of the High Court. They were launched in London on 4 July 2017. Regional launches in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff will take place over the summer. The changes take effect on 2 October 2017.
The new umbrella name is intended to be easily understood and to clearly convey the court's specialisms. The Ministry of Justice hopes that it will bolster the UK's international reputation for civil litigation and strengthen the UK's legal services sector.
Time and cost savings
Alongside the perceived international benefits, the new structure may result in tangible time and cost savings for proceedings issued in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff.
Lord Chancellor, David Lidlington, at the launch event, said: "Having business and property courts across England and Wales that are served by a critical mass of specialist judges will mean that all classes of case should be capable of being managed and tried away from the capital".
Cases can usually be heard sooner in the regional centres than in London, but are often transferred to the Rolls Building for a variety of reasons. This inevitably leads to increased delays and expense, as well as inconvenience for all involved. As High Court Judges will now be provided to try cases outside of London where appropriate there should be no need for cases issued in the regions to be transferred to London. It remains to be seen whether this will result in increased returns to creditors, but it should certainly make it quicker and easier for insolvency practitioners to commence and progress litigation.
The new structure is also intended to make it easier for judges with suitable expertise and experience to be deployed across the courts. Insolvency litigation often entails not only complex questions of insolvency law but also specialist issues arising from the nature of the underlying business. An increase in cross-deployment of judges across the different courts and lists that make up the Business and Property Court can only be of benefit in insolvency proceedings.