Following a series of regional launches in July, the 'go-live' date for all the new courts has been confirmed as 2 October 2017. The Business and Property Courts of England and Wales (Business and Property Courts) will comprise a number of the courts' special jurisdictions and is how England and Wales' international business dispute resolution jurisdictions will be known. The Business and Property Courts will comprise the following Courts and Lists:
- Commercial Court;
- Technology and Construction Court;
- Courts of the Chancery Division;
- Insolvency and Companies Court;
- Admiralty Court;
- Business List;
- Financial List;
- Competition List;
- Intellectual Property List;
- Property Trust and Probate List; and
- Revenue List.
Why the change?
Currently it is thought that cases are transferred unnecessarily from the regions to the Rolls Building in London: London based Judges who have specialist expertise are not readily deployed to hear specialist cases elsewhere. One of the main aims of the new court structure is to encourage more specialist work to be done in the regions. And, as the Court Service has put it 'no case is too big to be tried outside London'.
The new name, a simpler, user-friendly umbrella term for the business specialist courts across England and Wales simplifies and modernises the names of the courts the Business and Property Courts now encompass. This should help maintain the UK's international reputation as a dispute resolution centre – the UK is currently the jurisdiction of choice and the new court structure is designed to enhance this; as the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales highlighted: "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."
What are the practical implications of the change?
Users will notice an immediate change from 2 October when seeking to issue proceedings electronically in the courts in which Electronic Filing is compulsory: they will be greeted online by the portal for the Business and Property Courts and asked to state in which Court or List (see list above) they wish the case to be assigned. They will then be asked to select in which centre they wish to issue the proceedings – the choice will be, initially, London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff.
The judiciary have acknowledged that it is crucial that the global commercial community understands the value of English law and the dispute resolution services the UK provides. To that end they have recently produced an overview promotional document. The modernised structure and less-antiquated nomenclature should support this initiative in a post-Brexit world.