Given Britain’s storied history of public sector IT disasters, it is hardly a surprise that we managed to construct a £300m, state-of-the-art (sic) Commercial Court without installing proper e-working facilities. But this is a relatively minor detail in the context of whether the forum can maintain its global pre-eminence.
With the UK legal services sector returning to pre-financial crisis rates of growth, the biggest threat appears to come not so much from rival forums as from the government. The Ministry of Justice has signalled its intent to milk what it clearly perceives to be a cash cow by introducing enhanced fees.
It is encouraging therefore to hear from Mr Justice Flaux, who took charge of the court in July, that the issue has ‘gone quiet’, suggesting that the MoJ may be having second thoughts. It would certainly be out of character for this administration to ignore the consensus in the City.
As the Law Society’s city and international chief Stephen Denyer avers, enhanced fees would reduce the appeal of London as a jurisdiction, at a time when rivals such as Singapore and New York gear up to steal a march. Besides, should the state be looking to profit from the misfortunes of its citizens?
Chris Grayling would be well advised to listen to Mr Justice Flaux: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’