25 May 2018

London remains top for commercial cases, but warned over 'complacency'

Annual survey confirms London's number 1 spot, but highlights potential challengers from Europe, Middle East and Asia.

London remains the destination of choice for international litigants despite growing competition from English speaking courts in other jurisdictions. The Commercial Courts Report 2018, published by consultancy company Portland Communications, states the number of international commercial cases heard in London rose by 7% in the year to April 2018 and the number of litigants by 22%.

Complacency warning
The report explains the growth is part of an ‘upward trend,’ but added that lobby group TheCityUK has noted the UK ‘cannot be complacent as many jurisdictions are actively vying to take Britain’s crown’. After the UK, which accounted for 267 litigants, the next most represented country was Kazakhstan (31), followed by the US and Russia, from which 20 litigants hailed. The report explains, ‘City law firms will undoubtedly continue to watch Russia’s relationship with the commercial courts. Tensions between London and Moscow show little sign of easing. Despite this, current high-profile proceedings with Russian litigants look likely to maintain the country’s prominence in the courts for the coming year.’

Potential challengers
The EU, whose 27 other member states accounted for 105 litigants, remains a powerful challenger. Five EU cities – Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Frankfurt – have announced the potential launch of, or increased funding for, English-speaking courts. The report, states that if a ‘hard Brexit’ results in a failure to retain the Brussels 1 Regulation, which recognises enforcement of judgments, London could become a ‘less attractive litigation destination’. Other potential competitors include courts in Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Singapore. Philip Hall, head of Portland’s disputes practice, said: ‘The London commercial courts cannot be complacent, even as they continue to lead the way in international litigation. To reinforce their position, the courts must understand and act on current economic and political realities’. The full report can be found here