Monday, 2 October 2017

The Business and Property Courts: Hello and Welcome!


The Business and Property Courts (BPC) began trading today which may turn you on if you are a lawyer or are about to start a civil case involving, say, the most difficult building dispute known to man which only a judge who breaths, eats and sleeps nails, foundations and pylons could ever understand. They have been created as a single umbrella for these specialist courts across England and Wales - the Commercial Court, the Admiralty Court, the Chancery Division Courts and the Technology and Construction Court which will continue to operate out of Rolls Building in London's Fetter Lane and is the largest specialist centre in the world for financial, business and property litigation. 

But not just Rolls Building. The BPC's work will also be dealt with at regional centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester. All work in and out of London will be divided into courts or lists, namely the Admiralty Court, the Business List (with Pensions and Financial Services and Regulation as sub-lists), the Commercial Court, the Circuit Commercial Courts (formerly the Mercantile Court), the Competition List, the Financial List, the Insolvency and Companies List, the Intellectual Property List (with the Patents Court and the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court being sub-lists), the Property, Trusts and Probate List, the Revenue List and the Technology and Construction Court. A claimant without a listing allergy must choose which BPC court, list or sub-list into which they should issue, based on the principal subject matter of the dispute as well as the appropriate location in which to issue. The claims will be given a claim number with a prefix reflecting the court, list or sub-list of issue. Existing claims will retain their numbers. The new arrangements are designed to make it easier to transfer claims between the Rolls Building and the regions.


Claims issued in the county court at Central London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool and Preston (or, presumably, sent or transferred there) and relating to specialist work of the type undertaken in the BPC will be marked ‘Business and Property Work’ by the court on allocation if not already so marked by the claimant and will be managed and heard only by specialist judges. And those judges must spend at least 20% of their time handling the county court specialist work or BPC work. Among the excluded work will be building claims (other than adjudication claims) worth under £75,000, invoice and other straightforward business claims worth under £75,000, land trust claims not combined with other specialist claims, boundary and easement disputes involving no conveyancing issues and Inheritance Act claims.

The present procedural rules will still apply to the BPC and with claims being started under Parts 7 or 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR). A new Practice Direction is being issued which is devoted to BPC work and will form part of the CPR 92nd update.

Those of you who are litigants in person, do bear in mind that the BPC is intended for the really big and complicated stuff. However, it may be that a county court claim demands the knowledge and experience of a specialist judge and, in that event, you may wish to start it  at or have it transferred to one of the county court centres mentioned above.