Commercial Court Guide
The Commercial Court Guide (PDF) (“the Guide”), now in its 11th edition published in 2022, provides a comprehensive guide to the procedures of the Commercial Court. (For additional information, please also see the Errata Table at the bottom of this page)
The Guide sets out the way in which the Court normally expects business to be done. It is in practical terms the key point of reference for those litigating in the Commercial Court. Its provisions reflect the practical experience of the Commercial Judges and practitioners of how the CPR can best be applied to commercial disputes. However, it remains guidance which must be adopted flexibly and adapted to each particular case.
The answers to most Commercial Court procedural questions are likely to be found in the Guide. Occasionally, additional judicial guidance or a practice statement is published, and these currently exist on the following topics: remote hearings; e-filing; and time estimates – 28 Sept 2020 (PDF) and time estimates – 30 March 2022.
Commercial Court Guide FAQs
Is this case suitable for the Commercial Court?
The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) r.58.1(2) (external link) describes a “commercial claim” as any claim arising out of the transaction of trade and commerce, and then provides examples of such claims. If a judge considers that the case is not appropriate for the Commercial Court, then it may be transferred to a different part of the High Court or to the London Circuit Commercial Court.
Do the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”) apply to cases in the Commercial Court?
The CPR generally applies to Commercial Court cases. CPR Part 58 (external link) and PD58 (external link) deal specifically with the Commercial Court. Part 61 (external link) and PD61 (external link) deal with the Admiralty Court and Part 62 (external link) and PD62 (external link) deal with arbitration applications.
What is the status of the Commercial Court Guide?
The Guide is a comprehensive guide to procedures of the Commercial Court. It does not constrain the scope of judges’ discretion under the CPR and Practice Directions, but it does include guidance on the approach commonly taken to the exercise of some of those discretions. The Commercial Judges generally expect litigants to follow the procedures set out in the Guide and take account of whether or not parties have complied with the Guide in exercising their discretion under the Rules – including their discretion in relation to costs.
How can I make a suggestion or raise an issue about the Commercial Court Guide?
Some of the Guide’s provisions were suggested by practitioners or litigants, and the Commercial Judges welcome input from Court users. Any ideas for changes to the Guide, or other comments about the working of the Court, can be submitted through the Commercial Court Users Committee, by letter to The Secretary to the Commercial Court Users Committee, 7 Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1NL, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are all Commercial Court decisions taken by judges?
Most decisions and cases are heard by full-time Commercial Court judges. Some matters, including shorter and less complex trials, are dealt with by Deputy High Court judges who have been authorised to sit in the Commercial Court. There are no Masters in the Commercial Court and so procedural matters will be dealt with by a judge (whether on paper or in person).
How are documents filed in the Commercial Court?
Many documents are now required to be provided or filed electronically (e-filing) under the Electronic Working (CE File) arrangements which apply to the Commercial Court: see Guide Appendix 12. An exception is available for litigants in person: see Guide section M. The issue of any claim must be undertaken electronically. More details are on the e-filing webpage.
Are statements of case longer in Commercial Court cases?
There is no reason why statements of case in Commercial Court cases should be longer than those submitted in proceedings elsewhere, although the complexity of some Commercial Court cases does sometimes result in long pleadings. Guide section C contains guidance on written pleadings, including that statements of case should generally be less than 25 pages and should never exceed 40 pages unless permission is given.
How is case management dealt with in the Commercial Court?
A case management conference or “CMC” will take place, usually shortly after statements of case have been served. The documents required for the CMC, and the decisions to be taken, are described in Guide section D. In more complex cases, there may be a further CMC. A pre-trial review may also take place close to the trial date.
Are there special rules in the Commercial Court for disclosure of documents?
Disclosure of documents in most cases in the Commercial Court is governed by the Disclosure Pilot Scheme (CPR PD51U (external link)) as explained in Guide section E.
Does the Commercial Court have its own special forms?
There are various forms which are used or have been adapted for use in the Commercial Court. These include:
- forms for commencing proceedings and acknowledging service of proceedings (see Guide section B);
- application notices for making applications to the court for an order (see Guide section F);
- case management information sheets required for case management hearings (see Guide section D and Guide Appendix 2);
- the Disclosure Review Document usually required for case management hearings (see Guide section E) and the Disclosure Certificate required where Practice Direction 51U (external link) applies.
Find a full list of forms used in the Commercial Court and any specific form.
What are the rules for witness statements in the Commercial Court and when do they need to be served?
Witness statements will usually be required for applications to the court for an order and also for trials. In relation to applications for an order, guidance as to the content of witness statements and time for service is in Guide section F. Different timings apply depending on whether the application is categorised as an “ordinary” or “heavy” application. In relation to trials, guidance as to the content of witness statements (both factual and expert) is in Guide section H. The timing for service of statements will be ordered at the case management conference.
When do skeleton arguments need to be served for Commercial Court cases?
Skeleton Arguments are required for oral hearings of applications for an order, and also for trials. Service is always required in advance of the hearing. For applications, different timings for service of the Skeleton Arguments apply depending upon whether the application is categorised as an “ordinary” or “heavy” application: see Guide section F. For trials, the timing is set out in Guide section J.
Are there special procedures for arbitration matters?
Applications relating to arbitrations are known as “arbitration claims” and are frequently made in the Commercial Court. There are specific procedures concerning arbitration claims: see Guide section O.
Does the Commercial Court charge higher fees than other parts of the High Court?
Fees are charged for the commencement of proceedings including the making of a counterclaim, and for applications for orders. These are at the same rate as other parts of the High Court. For a list of fees, visit GOV.UK (PDF).
Do I need to engage a KC for a Commercial Court case?
It is not necessary to engage a KC for a Commercial Court case. Parties can be, and frequently are, represented by junior counsel or a solicitor advocate.
Can litigants in person appear in the Commercial Court?
Litigants in person can appear in the Commercial Court, although it is relatively unusual for a claimant to be a litigant in person. Guidance, including details of schemes for legal assistances, is contained in Guide section M. For further details, visit the Litigants in Person webpage.