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The London courts are a thriving hub for international litigation, research confirms

May 9, 2023

The London courts are a thriving hub for international litigation, research confirms

Business is booming in London’s commercial courts – to the envy of international rivals.

An authoritative report from communications consultancy Portland published last week revealed that the London commercial courts have never been so international – with the number of non-UK litigants hitting a record high this year, along with record diversity of nationalities appearing in the courts.

London has faced growing competition from other jurisdictions seeking to attract disputes traditionally adjudicated in the City. But last week’s findings, based mainly on data from 2022, suggest that London courts are going a good job of seeing off threats to London’s standing as an international litigation hub.

Some 257 judgments were handed down by the courts in 2022/23, with over 1,000 litigants appearing in the courts. Of these, some 60% were from outside the UK – the highest proportion of international litigants ever recorded.

These litigants originated from a record 78 different jurisdictions, reflecting London’s increasingly strong reputation as the world’s leading hub for foreign litigants. A dramatic rise in litigants from Asia was driven by record numbers of appearances for both Singaporean and Indian litigants, who ranked among the five top users this year.

Representing the top-five jurisdictions, some 441 litigants were from the UK; 58 were from Russia; 48 were from the United States; 44 were from India and 35 were from Singapore.

Giving the foreward to the report, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, former President of the UK Supreme Court and former Master of the Rolls, who now practises as an arbitrator and mediator, said:

‘There is an increasing number of potential competitors – perhaps especially in Europe and the Far East – for the international commercial legal work which currently comes to London… I am surprised by the increase in Singaporean and Indian litigants: it appears to be a particular compliment to London, given the keenness of the Singaporean courts and arbitration institutions to attract southern Asian international dispute resolution to Singapore.’

Meanwhile Portland also recorded the highest proportion of litigants from the European Union (EU) since 2018 (15.3%). The report said this was a potential sign ‘that EU countries have not wholly reduced their reliance on English institutions, despite the enforceability difficulties presented by the UK’s non-accession to the Lugano Convention.’

It added that some of the cross-border enforcement issues presented by Brexit may be solved by the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention. The UK government initiated consultations on introducing the Convention into domestic law in January this year.

Overall, Neuberger said the findings of the report ‘confirm the importance of London as the world’s centre for commercial law, the quality of the Commercial Court’s judgments, and the international reach and appeal of the Court’.


May 9, 2023

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