I was intrigued by the TCC’s latest annual report which covers 2017 to 2018. It reveals some fascinating trends in the rarefied world of this highly specialist court.
What are people litigating about?
Both the London TCC courts, county court and high court, provided an analysis of what people are litigating about. This is pretty rough and ready as sometimes disputes start off as one thing and become another, or involve so many issues it is difficult to allocate them. As expected, construction disputes made up the largest category of 19% of cases, followed closely by adjudication at 16%. Interestingly the next biggest categories were party wall appeals and domestic building disputes at 11% apiece and then procurement disputes at 9%. Tree root claims made up a surprising 6% of claims, the same as professional negligence, although this may reflect the fact that the Central London Count Court TCC contributes to the analysis.
Disappointingly, none of the courts outside London provided their breakdown, I would have loved to see if there are regional patterns in claims.
The TCC list in the Central London County Court
With some exceptions, most importantly adjudication related claims, claims below £250,000 should be issued in the TCC list in the Central London County Court. Traditionally lawyers have tried to avoid issuing in the county courts because of their poorer reputation for case management and delay, but last year there was a 42% rise in claims issued in the Central London County Court TCC. Sadly the report is silent as to the type of claim or why the increase might have occurred, maybe the tree roots are to blame?
Ad hoc submission to the jurisdiction
The TCC is keen to get more overseas disputes in through the doors, and to this end it can often arrange for foreign lawyers or judges to sit with a TCC judge in London. The court wants more international clients to know about this and the TCC judges travel to lecture abroad on a regular basis.
Consistency in settlement of cases
Those of us who remember being a sixth or seventh fixture listed for trial as Official Referee’s business will know that TCC claims often settle, and frequently settle just hours or minutes before the trial begins, or after the trial has begun. This has long been a feature of the TCC and the high settlement rates continue. This year 73% of cases settled before the end of trial, last year the figure was 78%.
The TCC is one of the most dynamic and flexible of the courts in the UK legal system, this latest report shows that it is keen to continue innovating and building upon its reputation.