My Court Is Better Than Your Court – And Cheaper, Says English Justice Secretary

The idea that jurisdiction compete for business is getting increasing traction – in Germany, with initiatives like “Law Made in Germany” or English language proceedings in German courts, but even more so in England. The Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling this week spoke on his initiative “UK Legal Services on the International Stage”. Not surprisingly, he said that London offered an “unrivalled mix of judicial expertise in the fields of finance, business and property.” But then he went on to say that “resolving disputes in the UK is quicker and cheaper – saving businesses up to £1.4bn a year – but still results in cast-iron judgments that are respected around the world.”

I take no issue whatsoever with the cast-iron standard of English judgments. But with all due respect, cheap is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind if one thinks of UK litigation. And to be fair, England has acknowledged this and is taking action. Reforms centred on costs will come into force on April 1, 2013. They are based on the Jackson Report which in its foreword states: “In some areas of civil litigation costs are disproportionate and impede access to justice.”

Reading the Secretray’s statement again, I asked myself what was missing – cheaper, yes, but cheaper than ….? Which jurisdictions were used as a benchmark to reach that conclusion? Comments and suggestions from readers are welcome.

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