Speech by the Chancellor of the High Court to Harvard Law School: Online courts – Perspectives from the Bench and the Bar

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1. I would like to start by thanking Professor David Wilkins and Professor Richard Susskind for having invited me to speak to you today. It is both an honour and a privilege.

2. Let me first give you an overview of where I am going in this short talk. England and Wales has always been one of a number of popular jurisdictions for the resolution of international commercial disputes. Indeed, for the last four years I have led Business and Property Courts in England and Wales in the Rolls Building in London. The Rolls Building is probably the biggest commercial dispute resolution court-house in the world. Pre-COVID-19, between 40 and 50 judges would sit in that building every day to resolve every kind of business dispute: shipping, construction, insolvency, financial services, banking, intellectual property, competition, tax and much more. Now, the same number sit each day, but most of them do so remotely.

3. In January 2021, as you have heard, I will be moving on to become Head of Civil Justice in England and Wales. That is a much broader canvas. In preparation for my new role, I have been thinking about civil dispute resolution more widely than I could have done from a purely commercial standpoint.