A continuing heavy workload of international business litigation remains the hallmark of the Commercial and Admiralty Courts, as featured in the Annual Report 2005-2006.
The number of days used for trials including preparation for hearings and judgment writing time was 1,043 days.
Once again the courts are the venue of choice for many overseas parties with 80% of all claims having a claimant or defendant from outside the jurisdiction. Furthermore the number of claim forms issued within the period has increased from last year (with a further substantial increase for the calendar year 2006). It is also greatly hoped that the facility of providing Commercial Court judges as arbitrators can be used more in the future.
One notable feature of the courts’ work has been the increase in the number of trials lasting over 4 weeks. Nonetheless the settlement rate has also improved overall to 70%.
The Annual Report details other noteworthy developments over the past year. Among these was the “ supercase symposium ”, held on October 2006, which looked at the procedures of the Commercial Court in the wake of two lengthy trials which collapsed in 2005. Various suggestions emerged from the event and a working group was formed to consider these and to make recommendations.
Lead times from initiation of proceedings to trial remain satisfactory despite considerable demands on commercial court judges to do other work.
The arrival of Phase I of the IT Project InterComm has transformed the listing activities in the Commercial Court Registry and the transfer by the parties to the Registry of documents in electronic form.
Mr. Justice (Sir David) Steel, Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court commented:
“The Court is very indebted to the court staff and to judge’s clerks for the efficient operation of the Court.
“Of great importance is the outcome of a successful business case to build a modern court building dedicated to commercial and business work. Correctly this is perceived as a proposal in the wider national economic interest and will introduce a new era for the Commercial and Admiralty Courts.”
Note for Editors:
To read the full report, follow the link below or contact Leela Titus, clerk to Mr Justice David Steel, to obtain a hard copy Tel: 020 7947 7320