On the international stage, London is a popular forum for the resolution of commercial disputes, and indeed a number of emerging legal markets have based their procedure on that of the English courts. However, with the Brexit vote casting uncertainty over various aspects of international jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition of England’s insolvency procedures, will London still be a hub of both national and international importance in the resolution of commercial disputes?
Sir Geoffrey Vos certainly thinks so. In his speech to the Insolvency Lawyers Association, published to the judiciary’s website late last year, he discussed recent and impending developments to the Rolls Buildings courts which will help London to retain its competitive edge as a world leader in commercial dispute resolution.
The Financial List
Introduced on 1 October 2015, Sir Geoffrey Vos considers the Financial List to have been a “huge success”. The Financial List enables parties to obtain quick and efficient outcomes in cases which require expertise in financial markets. A test-case procedure has also been adopted where resolution of a particular issue would benefit the financial markets as a whole.
Insolvency Express Trials
Insolvency Express Trials, involving straight-forward insolvency cases which can be resolved using a two day trial and at a cost of less than £75,000 per party, have also proved successful since their introduction in April 2016. They have enabled parties to speed up the litigation process and obtain expedited trial dates without the additional burden, in some cases, of costs budgeting. Sir Geoffrey Vos reports that the uptake of Insolvency Express Trials is rapidly increasing, and its success is also reflected in the similar Shorter Trials Scheme rolled out across the Chancery Division, Technology and Construction Court and Commercial Court.
New Insolvency Rules
The new Insolvency Rules are due to come into force in April 2017, having been delayed from their original planned commencement date of October 2016. Sir Geoffrey Vos confirmed that the changes are aimed at restructuring and consolidating the previous version of the Insolvency Rules, and removing unnecessary regulatory burdens and costs.
Enforcement of Judgments/Applicable Laws
Referring to a consequence of Brexit that may not have crossed the minds of many non-lawyer voters, Sir Geoffrey Vos mentioned the need to ensure that English judgments are enforceable in the EU once we are no longer a member state, and not bound by the relevant EU legislation. Brexit also gives us an opportunity to consider the application of other legislation concerning the choice of law in commercial disputes. As with many other aspects of post-Brexit Britain, how this will work is not clear at present but listeners may have been reassured by Sir Geoffrey Vos’ statement that the judiciary and the government are looking for “simple and practical solutions”.
For Sir Geoffrey Vos, legal London’s post-Brexit vote future is looking bright. He notes that the UK has always been a world leader in arbitration, and that the quality and certainty of English law is something that will continue to attract business people choosing a law by which to resolve their disputes. He warns, however, against complacency and encourages development and modernisation to retain competitiveness, currently characterised by the measures outlined in his speech.