It has long been established that London is a hub for high value disputes and a piece of research by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) and an excellent piece in The Lawyer this week further endorse that reputation. Figures from both RPC and The Lawyer show a growing demand for contentious advice and litigation services in the UK. This data reinforces the English legal system’s reputation for the being the best in the world, and is good news for the legal industry; which is such an important part of our economy.
The figures from The Lawyer’s analysis of the top UK 15 litigation practices show some impressive results – with all of the litigation practices experiencing growth. The Lawyer points to help from international mergers at many of the firms, which have created new opportunities at home and abroad, and also an increase in demand for regulatory expertise. In their piece for The Lawyer, Katy Dowell and Hannah Gannagé-Stewart highlight that clients are now pushing for big changes in how they pay litigation teams and options for funding cases are becoming increasingly varied. They conclude that these developments, coupled with the growth in international work, could present even more opportunities for the flexible litigator in the future.
Meanwhile the RPC study, reported in The Times, analyses the number of cases commenced at the Commercial Court. The data shows the number of “big ticket” commercial disputes being taken to the High Court has increased by nearly a quarter in the past year. RPC attributes the rise to the fact that we are nearly at the cut off point for disputes arising from the credit crunch (due to the six year time limit for bringing claims). However, the firm also highlights that the rising number of foreign claimants bringing commercial claims in the UK courts is another key factor behind the increase. International claimants, particularly those from Russia and the CIS, choose the English courts due to the maturity of our legal system and the independence of our judiciary. This reputation is leading to English law increasingly being the law of choice to govern commercial contracts between companies in emerging markets.
Byfield’s own experience is that there has been a rise in litigation from foreign entities using the UK courts and UK based companies feeling commercially stronger and deciding to pursue litigation where there has been a dispute. London’s reputation as a major financial and legal centre on the global stage means that the UK and international media will take a keen interest in high profile disputes going through the English courts. The fact that the English language is spoken throughout the world and we have some of the highest quality media operating in the UK, both domestic and international, means that individuals or companies involved in high profile litigation here need to be aware of the media element to their case and plan for it accordingly as part of their legal strategy.
The UK’s legal industry has a longstanding reputation as a world leader and research like that produced by RPC and The Lawyer – with figures that support this status – provide a great opportunity to talk about one of our oldest and most successful exports.