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Lord Chief opens the Business & Property Courts in Birmingham

The senior judiciary descended on Birmingham in force yesterday to mark the opening of the new Business and Property Courts. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, officially opened the new courts in a ceremony attended by the Chancellor (Sir Geoffrey Vos), the President of the Queen’s Bench Division (Sir Brian Leveson), the presiding judges of the Midland Circuit (Mr Justice Haddon-Cave and Mrs Justice Carr), the Chancery supervising judge (Mr Justice Newey), the Judge in Charge of the TCC (Mr Justice Coulson), the QB Liaison Judge for the Administrative Court (Mr Justice Singh) and Mr Justices Birss and Morris.

The new court structure brings together the Chancery Division and the specialist courts of the Queen’s Bench Division, namely the Commercial & Admiralty Courts, the Mercantile Court and the Technology and Construction Court. Effectively, it comprises the Rolls Building courts and their regional counterparts. The new Business & Property Courts mark the beginning of the end of the old divisional structure and the introduction of a user-friendly umbrella structure that does what it says on the tin. In similar vein, the Victorian name “Mercantile” is abandoned in favour of the new Circuit Commercial Courts.

At an official reception to mark the occasion, Sir Geoffrey Vos reiterated Lord Justice Briggs’ pledge that no case is too large to be tried in the regions, and that he and Sir Brian would ensure that the right judge (whether that be a specialist circuit judge or a full High Court judge) would be deployed to hear the case. Confirming that yesterday’s launch was the first step in a process of reform, Sir Geoffrey stressed the new courts’ flexible approach to listing and the advent of electronic filing right across the Business & Property Courts of England & Wales soon after the October launch.

In addition to sitting in London and Birmingham, there will be further openings to follow in Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff, along with planned future expansion to Newcastle and Liverpool.

In association with the Midland Chancery & Commercial Bar Association, a guide to the new courts has been published by Lexis-Nexis, a full copy of which can be downloaded by clicking here.

Picture above (l–r): Mr Justice Newey, Ed Pepperall QC, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave and Mrs Justice Carr

The Birmingham Business & Property Court will commence sitting as of Monday 2nd October 2017.

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