Litigation costs are more favourable in the UK than elsewhere, the lord chief justice has said, outlining an optimistic view of the UK's legal reputation post Brexit.
Speaking at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre yesterday to mark the opening of the Business and Property Courts for Wales, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd outlined 10 points highlighting the 'major advantages' of English law and UK dispute resolution.
UK litigation and arbitration are cost effective, Thomas said. 'Whilst not cheap, the overall cost of UK international dispute resolution compares favourably with costs elsewhere,' he added.
'All fees can be competitively negotiated. Parties have autonomy in the conduct of business litigation. Significant cost/benefit advantages can be achieved by adapting court procedures to meet the particular requirements of the case; for example, by reducing the scope of disclosure. In addition, judges are proactive in preventing unnecessary cost escalation by appropriate case management direction.'
Dismissing fears about the enforceability of judgments after Brexit, Thomas reminded the event that the EU is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements but the UK can become a signatory in its own right when it leaves the union.
Thomas explained: 'The Hague Convention requires other courts to dismiss proceedings to which a choice of court agreement applies, save in narrowly defined circumstances. Parties who agree to resolve their disputes before the UK courts can rest assured that the resulting judgment will be given effect throughout the EU, as previously.'
The 'Business and Property Courts' is the new name for England and Wales' international dispute resolution jurisdictions and will act as a single umbrella for business specialist courts across the country. The new name will encompass the Commercial Court (including the Admiralty Court and the former Mercantile Court), the Technology and Construction Court and the courts of the Chancery Division.
A practice direction will be published before the 10 courts or lists that make up the Business and Property Courts 'go live' on 2 October. Once specialist IT has been rolled out to the various circuits by spring, users will be able to choose which region they wish to begin proceedings.
Courts have been opened in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. One will also open in Bristol.
Thomas said it was essential that businesses in the principality of Wales and in the regions of England 'can litigate in those great cities on exactly the same basis as they can litigate in London'.