Litigants from the Middle East and North Africa may overtake those from Russia and surrounding states among those settling disputes in London, according to latest figures on the usage of the Commercial Court.
The second annual study of Commercial Court users shows more than 75% of litigants in the Commercial Court between April 2013 and March 2014 were foreign nationals. This was up from 70.6% in 2012/13. Only 23.2% of all parties were British, showing a 48% overall decline since 2008.
The highest regional representation last year was from Europe and Eurasia. However, litigants from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) doubled in the past year.
The research by Portland, a communications consultancy, recorded the nationalities of parties involved in a total of 846 judgments from the Commercial Court of England and Wales since March 2008.
Excluding the UK, the top nationalities litigating in the Commercial Court in the past year came from: the US (42), Russia (30), Kazakhstan (25), Switzerland (23), the United Arab Emirates (14), India (14), the British Virgin Islands (12), Panama (11), Bahrain (10) and Germany (10).
Idil Oyman, head of Portland’s legal disputes practice, said the study shows that Middle Eastern entities may catch up with Eurasian oligarchs in their preference for resolving disputes in Britain.
‘Between March 2013 and 2014 litigants from the Mena region accounted for 11% of litigants utilising the Commercial Court, including the notable case brought by the Saudi investor Basma Al Sulaiman against Credit Suisse Securities. This is the first time that Mena countries, the UAE and Bahrain in particular, are in the top 10.’
In April the government said it would examine the case for charging ‘enhanced fees’ exceeding the cost of proceedings in the Commercial Court to cut the cost to taxpayers of the system as a whole.