London continues to be the destination of choice for international litigants despite looming competition from English speaking courts in other jurisdictions, an annual survey claims today.

According to the Commercial Courts Report 2018, by consultancy company Portland Communications, the number of international commercial cases heard in London rose by 7% in the year to April 2018 and the number of litigants by 22%.

This, the report says, is part of an ‘upward trend’: 656 litigants from 69 countries took part in 158 cases in London, up from 62 countries in 2015/16.

The commercial court is part of the Business and Property Court of the High Court of Justice. It hears complex national and international business disputes and is housed in the Rolls Building.

After the UK, which accounted for 267 litigants, the next most represented country was Kazakhstan (31), followed by the US and Russia, from which 20 litigants hailed.

The report notes: ‘City law firms will undoubtedly continue to watch Russia’s relationship with the commercial courts. Tensions between London and Moscow show little sign of easing. Despite this, current high-profile proceedings with Russian litigants look likely to maintain the country’s prominence in the courts for the coming year.’

However, the report claims potential challengers are waiting in the wings, particularly from the EU – whose 27 other member states accounted for 105 litigants. Five EU cities – Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Frankfurt – have announced the potential launch of, or increased funding for, English-speaking courts.

According to the report, if a ‘hard Brexit’ results in a failure to retain the Brussels 1 Regulation, which recognises enforcement of judgments, London could become a ‘less attractive litigation destination’. Other courts mentioned as potential competitors include the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts, the Qatar International Court, the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts and the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Philip Hall, head of Portland’s disputes practice, said: ‘The London commercial courts cannot be complacent, even as they continue to lead the way in international litigation. To reinforce their position, the courts must understand and act on current economic and political realities’.

The report added that lobby group TheCityUK has noted that the UK is ‘cannot be complacent as many jurisdictions are actively vying to take Britain’s crown’.