London’s Commercial Courts have had a record year, according to Portland’s Commercial Courts Report 2021. The Courts handed down 292 judgments between April 2020 and March 2021, a 47% increase in judgments over the previous year and a record high when compared to the previous six years.
The report also shows the continued international appeal of the London Commercial Courts, with 73 different nationalities litigating in them. The decline of the proportion of litigants from EU Member States continues, down to 11.5% of total litigants in 2020–2021 compared to 16.5% three years ago, which Portland suggests is partly due to the establishment of international commercial courts across the EU. However there has been an increase of litigants from non-EU states, particularly Russia and the US (the number of US litigants was 75% higher than in the previous year).
Portland also carried out polling to understand the UK public’s response to remote hearings and this revealed that 61% of respondents thought that remote hearings should continue to be commonly used going forward. The recent minutes of the Commercial Court User Group April 2021 meeting suggest that in future the Court will adopt a hybrid approach with some in-person hearings and some hearings continuing remotely. It expects most trials to be held in court now, which it sees as the "gold standard", although they may still have hybrid elements such as witnesses giving evidence remotely, and there may still be restrictions on the numbers who can attend. Electronic bundles will continue to be used. For other hearings, they will continue to be heard remotely for the present, and there are plans for a questionnaire to gauge enthusiasm on the future use of remote hearings.