A Beacon of Hope for the Financial Markets Sector?
The Lord Chief Justice has high hopes for the new specialist Financial List at the High Court in London, which was unveiled earlier this month to deal with high value, important or complex banking and financial disputes.
In an address to the judiciary introducing the initiative earlier this year, Lord Thomas claimed that it would act as a “beacon” to the international community stating that the new Financial List “will set an international benchmark. The new list will not only encourage international litigants to continue to use our courts, the principles they embody and their jurisprudence, but in doing so they will help to raise standards. Setting the bar high here will help to raise the bar high across the world.”
No doubt prompted by competition from institutions like the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts, the Financial List has been established in London to deal with banking and financial disputes worth over £50 million. The List will also deal with those cases requiring specialist expertise in the financial markets and matters raising issues of general importance to the financial markets.
Another important development which has been introduced alongside the Financial List is a pilot scheme for Financial Market “test cases” designed to resolve issues of general importance to the financial markets by providing authoritative English law guidance where there is an immediate or pressing need.
The key reasons for the introduction of the list were also set out by the head of the judiciary of England and Wales in his July 2015 address, as follows:
1. To promote access to the courts and the established financial markets expertise of the Chancery Court and the Commercial Court trial judges.
2. To help to avoid litigation by providing a mechanism for authoritative guidance before disputes have arisen, through the new “test case” procedure.
3. To promote the rule of law both nationally and internationally.
The new list has been established in record speed, consultations having only started in May 2015, and the requisite amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules were fast tracked to ensure that qualifying claims could be allocated to the bespoke procedure from 1 October 2015.
The claims will be heard from the first case management conference up to enforcement before existing Commercial or Chancery Court judges who will be trained in financial markets developments and products. Parties will be given an opportunity in the early stages of the case to express their views on whether the case is more appropriate for a Commercial or Chancery Court judge.
All Financial List cases will be governed by a specialist procedure based on the Commercial Court procedure. For this reason, the cases will be managed through the Commercial Court’s registry and listing office.
This initiative is clearly aimed at ensuring that London continues to be an attractive venue for resolving international financial disputes despite the recent hike in the civil court fees and the new Financial List has the potential of providing a tailored and much-improved mechanism for dealing with cases in an area of increasing prominence and prevalence in our courts.
With any luck it will provide a faster and more efficient forum for financial dispute resolution.