Foreign litigants swamp Commercial Court

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Aug 02, 2017
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The proportion of British litigants in the Commercial Court, which sits in the Rolls Building of the Royal Courts of Justice, has been falling for six years

Nick Ansell/PA

Foreign litigants accounted for more than 70 per cent of the cases before the English Commercial Court last year, research published today shows.

The number of British litigants fell in 2016-17 for the sixth year in a row, while the number of cases involving EU parties also declined, emphasising concerns over the continuing lure of London for international dispute resolution after Brexit. However, the researchers found that disputes before the commercial courts involving Indian litigants was rising, with that country appearing in the list of the top-five countries responsible for overseas litigants for the first time.

British litigants accounted for 28 per cent of the court’s 134 cases – down from 34 per cent the previous year. Russian litigants were involved in 25 cases, those from Kazakhstan were in 23, while litigants from India brought 17 cases before the English court. However, litigants from the US were less keen on the English Commercial Court as that country dropped out of the top five for the first time since 2012-13 to ninth position last year, when there were eight cases involving parties from that country.

Overall, since 2012 the proportion of litigants from Europe has been dropping, with the fall even sharper for those from the EU. In 2012-13, European litigants accounted for more than 34.5 per cent of cases before the Commercial Court; last year that figure had dropped to slightly more than 20 per cent. Litigants from the EU accounted for slightly less than 16 per cent of the court’s overall workload.

Philip Hall, the head of the disputes practice at Portland, the agency that compiled the research, said London was facing “stiff competition from the likes of Singapore and Dubai”.

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