By: 22 September 2017
The Business and Property Courts: A door of opportunity

The launch of the Business and Property Courts in Leeds offers fantastic prospects for Yorkshire as Brexit approaches, says Elizabeth Darlington from Parklane Plowden Chambers

On 10 July the new Business and Property Courts (B&PCs) in Leeds were launched, although they will not actually come into operation until October 2017.

The B&PCs include the specialist jurisdictions of the High Court: the Commercial Court, the TCC and the courts of the Chancery Division. In addition to London, there will be B&PCs in Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Cardiff. Expansions to Newcastle and Liverpool are likely in the future.

As the UK moves towards Brexit the re-branding, together with other initiatives such as the Shorter and Flexible Trial Scheme, will, in the words of the Government, “ensure that Britain continues to provide the best business court-based dispute resolution service in the world”. In addition, there will be an enhanced role for the regions, with Lord Justice Briggs’ principle that “no case is too big to be resolved in the provinces” being put into effect. Even cases that are currently heard only in London, such as competition cases, will be capable of being determined in the provinces.

Lord Justice Vos, the Chancellor of the High Court, said that a key aspect of the new B&PCs is “connectivity” between the regions and London. The out-going Vice-Chancellor, Mr Justice Norris, added that “the launch of the B&PC is a fantastic opportunity for the provinces”.

The advantages

 The advantages are, in summary:

  • An intelligible name. Business and Property Courts will be a user-friendly understandable umbrella term for UK plc’s national and international dispute resolution jurisdictions
  • Regional B&PCs joined up with London. There will be a super-highway between the B&PCs at the Rolls Building in London and those in the regions to ensure that international businesses and domestic enterprises are equally supported in the resolution of their disputes
  • Flexible cross deployment of judges. The B&PCs will facilitate the flexible cross-deployment of judges with suitable expertise and experience to sit in business and property cases across the courts
  • Familiar procedures. The B&PCs will build on the reputation and standing of the Commercial Court, the TCC and the courts of the Chancery Division, while allowing for the familiar procedures and practices of those jurisdictions to be retained.

In practical terms, when court users seek to issue proceedings electronically they will be “greeted” to the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales and will then be asked to say to which Court or List they wish the case assigned.

The primary choices will be the Commercial Court (QBD), Admiralty Court (QBD), Commercial Circuit Court (QBD), Technology and Construction Court (QBD), Financial List (ChD/QBD Commercial Court), Business List (ChD),

Company & Insolvency List (ChD), Intellectual Property List (ChD), Trusts & Probate List (ChD), Competition List (ChD) and Revenue List (ChD).

At the launch, Lord Justice Vos explained that “Property” would now be grouped with Trusts & Probate, rather than under the Business List where it had previously been included.

Having identified the list in which they wish to issue proceedings, users will then be asked to identify in which centre they wish to issue the proceedings. The choice will in almost all cases be between London, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Cardiff .

It is hoped that electronic issuing will be added in the regions by early 2018.

At the launch, the reputation and high regard in which the specialist courts in Leeds are held and the role played in the establishment of this reputation by HHJ Behrens and HHJ Kaye QC amongst others, was acknowledged by Lord Justice Vos. There can be little doubt that this reputation will continue to flourish into the future and that there is now a real opportunity for Leeds and Yorkshire presented by the launch of the Business and Property Courts.

Elizabeth Darlington is a barrister from Parklane Plowden Chambers


This article first appeared in Leeds & Yorkshire Lawyer (Issue 147)