The number of complex commercial litigation cases increased significantly last year thanks to a time lag in disputes arising from the recession, two separate pieces of research reveal today. 

The number of disputes at the Commercial Court, part of London’s High Court, rose 16% to 1,167 in 2013, according to data extracted from the public records by City firm RPC. 

Many of these cases represent commercial transaction disputes, which are often complex and of high value, the firm said. 

Geraldine Elliott, RPC’s head of commercial litigation, said the figures represent a time lag between disputes arising during the downturn and starting to come through the system.

‘This kind of “big-ticket” litigation tends to be quite complex as well as very contentious – it’s not something that can be rushed to court,’ she said. 

‘Sometimes high-value or large-scale claims can take several years to actually get as far as filing a claim let alone a court hearing, which is why we are seeing such an upswing in cases coming to court now, even as we start to leave the recession behind us.’

According to separate research from global firm Eversheds, a ‘significant number of organisations’ have had to deal with more than 20 commercial disputes over the past three years.

In Companies in Conflict: How Commercial Disputes are Won, compiled in conjunction with King’s College London and the University of Surrey, the firm surveyed 82 general counsel about the number of large disputes involving their companies.

According to the findings, 52% reported disputes arising from the termination of commercial contracts, followed by renegotiation of commercial contracts (45%) and regulatory matters (38%).

RPC’s Elliot added that banks are having to make provision for regulatory and litigation costs arising from PPI mis-selling, LIBOR and interest rate swaps scandals.

Earlier this year Royal Bank of Scotland announced it would set aside an additional £3bn for legal claims, including £1.9bn for mortgage-backed securities claims.