London’s ‘Rolls-Royce’ Commercial Court is in need of a service.
It is boasted that litigants in high-value claims receive a ‘Rolls-Royce’ service (no pun intended) when London is their chosen forum. Certainly the concentration of highly skilled and highly rewarded litigators is remarkable, and a visit to the home of the Commercial Court, the Rolls Building, would seem to confirm that. The fabric of the building is of a specification that bears comparison with the client areas of law firms in the global elite, rather than other English courts.
But it is surely worth asking whether the Rolls Royce analogy is apt for some of the wrong reasons – an impractical car that is an expensive way to make a journey, and whose use is about projecting image.
A little harsh? The Commercial Court would be right to ask if its operation needs improvement – a point considered in a report for the lord chief justice by Khawar Qureshi QC (pictured). As Qureshi shows, the judiciary and the quality of decisions are second to none. But a significant minority believe that case management and disclosure are unsatisfactory, that costs are too high, and that the use of IT falls far short.
To take the last point, Wi-Fi access is not the free, convenient type clients find in major law firms, but relies on the less convenient BT Openzone – a small but telling point. Fixing these faults would secure and widen London’s appeal. Ignoring them appears complacent.