Tuesday 7 May 2019 4:02 pm

London's commercial courts hear record number of cases despite competition from overseas rivals

London’s commercial courts heard a record 258 cases in 2018-19, up 63 per cent on the previous year.

There was also a 54 per cent increase in the number of litigants using the courts in the year to March, with litigants coming from 78 countries, a report published today by Portland Communications shows.

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US individuals and companies are the heaviest overseas users of the London commercial courts, followed by litigants from Kazakhstan, with Russian and Indian litigants the joint-third highest overseas users, and litigants from Cyprus and Ukraine in fifth and sixth place.

The continuing popularity of the London courts with litigants from Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, came despite increasing scrutiny by the UK government of high-profile nationals from those countries.

Philip Hall, partner and head of Portland’s disputes practice, said: “London has continued to expand as a hub for complex dispute resolution and the demand from clients for support both in and outside the courtroom has grown.”

The growth came despite increased competition from overseas rivals and the looming prospect of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Since 2017, five European courts have announced the launch of English-speaking commercial courts, with two having opened.

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These join English-speaking commercial courts in Singapore, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and China which have all opened in recent years

Julian Acratopulo, a partner at Clifford Chance and the president of the London Solicitors' Litigation Association, said: “We continue to be incredibly attractive but we need to be mindful of making sure our system remains fit for purpose going forward given all the investment elsewhere.”

Acratopulo argued that the factors that made London a popular dispute resolution centre would not be affected by Brexit.

“The reason why this jurisdiction has been attractive and attracted international disputes will remain the same, notwithstanding the spectre of Brexit,” he said.