In a bid to modernise the court system, the Lord Chancellor has announced that ‘arcane’ legal terms such as ‘mercantile’ and ‘chancery’ should be replaced by language which is more easily understood by the general public.
The new measures were announced when the Lord Chancellor officially unveiled the new Business and Property Courts of England and Wales at the Rolls Building. He also took the opportunity to announce reforms designed to share out court work across the regions, as part of the country’s preparations for Brexit.
New courts in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff will all be in session by the start of October 2017.
The Business and Property Courts will include the specialist courts and lists of the High Court, including the Commercial Court (the Admiralty Court and Circuit Commercial Court, formerly the Mercantile Court), the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) and the courts of the Chancery Division (including those dealing with financial services, intellectual property, competition and insolvency).
Lord Chancellor David Lidington said: “The launch demonstrates without any doubt that our bench is responsive, forward thinking and clear in purpose – not least in recognising that while our historic courts continue to flourish, some of the arcane names such as Chancery itself … are perhaps still beloved of many lawyers, rather less understood by the 21st century business community outside of the City of London.
“At a stroke, that problem is remedied by the new name of Business and Property Courts which fits squarely in the British tradition in that it says exactly what it says on the tine – it is a user friendly choice and is easy to understand whatever part of the world you come from.”
It is hoped that the new regional courts will mean litigation becomes less London-centric, providing: “more flexible cross-deployment of judges with suitable expertise and experience to sit on appropriate business and property cases”
David Lidington continued: “The reforms aren’t just about bolstering our reputation towards overseas claimants, but about improving the service our civil courts offer to individual businesses in this country who seek legal regress.
Adam Davis, a Partner with Palmers who specialises in contentious and non-contentious claims and is an expert in construction and engineering law, said: “This is certainly a step in the right direction as any measures which mean that the law is more accessible and easily understood by our clients is certainly a good thing. The change of name to ‘Business and Property Courts’ is very much a case of ‘doing what it says on the tin.’
“That said, clients who find they need to pursue claims through these courts, in particular any claims made through the Technology and Construction Courts, should not be under the illusion that the system will suddenly become hugely simplified, as the majority of terminology used in these courts will still be of a highly technical nature.
“They would therefore still do well to seek the support of a specialist legal team who are able to guide and support them through this notoriously complex area of the law.”
For further information on Palmers commercial litigation services, including support with business, property and TCC claims, please contact us.