The “Business and Property Courts of England and Wales” (“B&PCs”), were launched on 4th July 2017 and become operational on 2nd October 2017. They have been created as a single umbrella for specialist jurisdictions across England and Wales. The specialist jurisdictions are the Commercial Court (including the Admiralty Court), the Chancery Division Courts, and the Technology and Construction Court. In London these specialist jurisdictions operate together in the Rolls Building on Fetter Lane, forming the largest specialist centre for financial, business and property litigation in the world.
Business and Property Courts have also been established in the five main regional centres where specialist business similar to that in the Rolls Building is undertaken, namely, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester. Specialist County Court cases that fall within the ambit of the B&PC’s are heard in the Business and Property Courts List (previously the Chancery Business List). The former Mercantile Court has become the Circuit Commercial Court, and Mercantile Judges have been re-named Circuit Commercial Judges.
The Business and Property Courts are divided into ten separate specialist courts or lists, some of which are further subdivided into sub-lists. These courts and lists are dealt with in more detail below.
Although the various specialist courts have been brought together under one umbrella, the courts themselves will continue to operate in the same way as at present, applying the same practices and procedures under the Civil Procedure Rules as before and retaining their own procedural Guides. The way in which cases are dealt with in each type of court will not change. Claims which have been proceeding in the Chancery Division before 2nd October remain under the control of the same Master (or Judge) as before until further order. The Practice Direction setting up the Business and Property Courts contains new provisions, particularly as regards issue and transfer of proceedings (see paragraphs 13 to 19).
The new arrangements will allow, over time, for greater flexibility in cross-deployment of judges with suitable expertise and experience to sit on appropriate business and property cases. It will also be simpler to issue claims in any of the B&PC’s and to transfer claims between the Rolls Building and the specialist courts in the regions….