About Us

The Commercial Court deals with complex cases arising out of business disputes, both national and international.

The Work

The Commercial Court deals with complex cases arising out of business disputes, both national and international.

A Commercial Court "Super Court"

A Commercial Court “Super Court”

There is particular emphasis on:

  • insurance and reinsurance
  • banking and financial markets
  • commodities
  • shipping
  • arbitration

The work of the Commercial Court is governed by Part 58 of the Civil Procedure Rules

The Admiralty and Commercial Courts Guide sets out detailed information on how litigation is conducted in the Admiralty and Commercial Court.

The guide is regularly updated to reflect rule changes and suggestions for improvement from users. The 10th edition was published in September 2017.

Suggestions for changes to the guide from users are welcomed and can be emailed to the Commercial Court listing office at comct.listing@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

The History

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Crest used in a Commercial Court room

The Commercial Court was set up in 1895 following demands from the City of London and the business community for a tribunal or court manned by judges with knowledge and experience of commercial disputes which could determine such disputes expeditiously and economically, thereby avoiding tediously long and expensive trials with verdicts given by judges or juries unfamiliar with business practices.

Many of greatest common lawyers of the last one hundred and twenty years have sat as judges of the Commercial Court: from Lord Justice Scrutton and Lords Atkin and Wright in the early decades of the last century, to Lord Devlin and Lord Diplock in the 1950s and in the more recent past, Lord Goff and Lord Bingham.

The commercial list was originally heard by two judges of the Queen’s Bench Division with the appropriate knowledge and experience. As the work of the Court has expanded, eight judges sit in the Court at any one time at present, drawn from a complement of up to fifteen specialist judges authorised to sit in the Court.

From the outset the Commercial Court has been in the vanguard of introducing flexible procedures to deal with the disputes before it as effectively as possible. The original judges, Mathew J and Stirling J would, where appropriate dispense with formal pleadings and disclosure and decide issues of principle on agreed facts. The Court has managed and tried the heavy and complex litigation arising out of various financial crises, including the problems of the Lloyd’s insurance market in the 1980s and early 1990s and, more recently, the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Many of the reforms to civil procedure introduced by the Civil Procedure Rules in 1998 had been part of the practice and procedure of the Commercial Court for some years. Because all interlocutory applications in the Commercial Court are heard by the judges themselves and not by Masters, active case management is possible.

The current work of the Court encompasses all aspects of commercial disputes, in the fields of banking and finance, shipping, insurance and reinsurance and commodities. The Court is also the principal supervisory court for international arbitration, with a seat in England and Wales, dealing with the granting of freezing and other relief in aid of arbitration, challenges to arbitration awards and enforcement of awards.

The Commercial Court was a founding member of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts, which had its first meeting in London in May 2017.

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