A multi-purpose high technology court complex will replace all of the City of London's courts apart from the Old Bailey under plans announced by HM Courts and Tribunals Service and the City of London Corporation today.
The aim, part of the City's programme to preserve its position as an international dispute resolution centre, is to set up a high technology centre specialising in fraud, economic and cyber-crime. The 18-court complex, likely to be in the traditional heart of legal London, will also take on the work of the City of London Magistrates’ Court and City of London County Court.
According to a City of London announcement today, 'the court’s close proximity to some of the world’s leading technology, financial and professional services firms in the Square Mile will enable the judiciary to be at the forefront of tackling criminal activity and resolving disputes. It would also benefit from its position near the Rolls Building, the Royal Courts of Justice, Old Bailey and Inns of Court.'
The emphasis on location is an attempt by the City to counter recent moves towards regionalisation, such as the opening of regional centres of the new Business and Property Courts. The corporation pointed out that employment in legal services currently accounts for 9.1% of the Square Mile’s workforce.
'This interconnectedness between financial and legal services is demonstrated by the fact that financial services firms makes up 17% of the total demand for legal services in the UK or £2.8bn,' the announcement stated.
The corporation said it would carry out a feasibility study to analyse the cost implications and identify possible sources of funding. This is expected to be completed early next year. 'The exact location of the court will be announced in due course,' it said.
Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: ’Our legal system has been an example to the rest of the world. Playing host to some of the world’s leading regulators, financial services and tech firms, the City is a natural choice to house this modern judicial centre. This proposal will make sure London continues to set the highest legal standards domestically and internationally. Our rule of law is one of the many reasons why London is the number one financial centre in the world and this new court will add to our many existing strengths.'
Justice minister Dominic Raab said: 'This new flagship court will build on UK legal services’ unique comparative advantage, by leading the drive to tackle fraud and crack down on cyber-crime. By reinforcing the City’s world-leading reputation as the number one place to do business and resolve disputes, it’s a terrific advert for post-Brexit Britain.'
Susan Acland-Hood, chief executive, HM Courts & Tribunals Service, said: 'The development of a state of the art court in the City of London will represent a major step forward in our wider programme of reform to deliver a modern justice system. The court will be fully equipped with 21st century technology, and will be a world-leading centre for economic and cybercrime, as well as working across other activity and jurisdictions. HMCTS looks forward to working in partnership with the City of London Corporation to make these plans a reality.'