4th July 2017 marked the formal opening of the new Business and Property Courts of England and Wales in London. The Business and Property Courts were planned to open in June 2017 but the recent general election delayed the launch.
The Chancery Division and the specialist civil courts have been combined in an attempt to promote the cross deployment of judges. The flexibility of judges moving between the various divisions previously dealing with certain commercial matters aims to create a pool of judges with suitable experience and expertise to sit across a variety of disputes throughout England and Wales.
Birmingham will formally open its restructured Business and Property Court on 6th July 2017. Additional regional courts will also be found in Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester.
Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court of England and Wales, made clear in his statement that “modernising the courts through innovation and flexibility can bring benefits to international and domestic businesses”.
The Business and Property Courts should hopefully allow a diverse range of civil litigation to be heard by appropriate judges that previously may have been inaccessible to the various regions. The reduced waiting times found in regional courts also intends to promote a faster case management and a more efficient and effective service.
Plans to further develop the initiative in the future include the possible expansion into Liverpool and Newcastle by early 2018 and the introduction of electronic issuing to make the most of modern technology (another clear objective of the Business and Property Courts).