The invitation by Brick Court Chambers to deliver the second Jonathan Hirst QC Commercial Law Lecture is a great honour, all the more so on this poignant occasion – the first such lecture when we are without Jonathan, a close friend and an outstanding colleague, much missed by all here. My title is “Courts and Arbitration”. I think it is a fitting topic. It is how Jonathan and I first met, on opposite sides, in successive hearings.
From first meeting as opponents, we – and our families – became the closest of friends. It was in the best traditions of the Bar and our system has benefited enormously from the force of such traditions; vigorous opposition in court or arbitration never once becoming personal. Quite the contrary. Subsequently, we worked together on the Bar Council, where Jonathan was (as might be expected) a most effective and popular Chairman. Business was conducted with despatch and good humour. Later still we holidayed together, in this country and abroad. I am delighted to see Fiona, Charles, Pamela (Lady Hirst), Rachel and Leslie Johnston, Sara Cox and Simon Hirst here. In fact, my connection with the Hirst family dates back to happy memories of appearing in front of Sir David, Lord Justice Hirst. I always enjoyed those occasions regardless of the outcome.
My theme tonight is that our Courts and London arbitration are complementary and mutually reinforcing, comprising a feature of the first importance for Legal UK. We need both as we seek to maintain and strengthen the global leadership position of London and English Law post-Brexit, as I shall seek to explore. I will look, first, at the relationship between the courts and arbitration; then at the courts, finally at arbitration. I should make it clear that the views expressed are my own.