Practice Direction – Business and Property Courts

PRACTICE DIRECTION – BUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS

Contents of this Practice Direction

TitleNumber
ScopePara 1
Starting proceedingsPara 2
TransfersPara 3
Specialist work in the district registries and the County CourtPara 4
AppealsPara 5

Scope

1.1 The Chancery Division of the High Court, the Commercial Court, the Technology and Construction Court, the Circuit Commercial Court, and the Admiralty Court located in the Royal Courts of Justice, Rolls Building together with the Chancery Division of the High Court, the Technology and Construction Court and the Circuit Commercial Courts in the District Registries of the High Court in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff together constitute the Business and Property Courts.

1.2 The Business and Property Courts located at the Royal Courts of Justice, Rolls Building, are collectively described as the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.  Those Business and Property Courts in the District Registries of the High Court in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, and Cardiff, are, respectively, described as the Business and Property Courts in Birmingham, the Business and Property Courts in Bristol, the Business and Property Courts in Leeds, the Business and Property Courts in Manchester, and the Business and Property Courts in Wales.   In this Practice Direction the Business and Property Courts in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff are referred to together as the BPCs District Registries.

1.3 The work of the Business and Property Courts is divided and listed into the following courts or lists: the Admiralty Court, the Business List, the Commercial Court, the Circuit Commercial Courts, the Competition List, the Financial List, the Insolvency and Companies List, the Intellectual Property List, the Property, Trusts and Probate List, the Revenue List, and the Technology and Construction Court.

1.4 The courts or lists of the Business and Property Courts include sub-lists, as follows:

(1)The Pensions sub-list and Financial Services and Regulatory sub-list are sub-lists of the Business List;

(2)The Patents Court and the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court are sub-lists of the Intellectual Property List.

1.5

(1) The Business and Property Courts operate within and are subject to all statutory provisions and rules together with all procedural rules and practice directions applicable to the proceedings concerned.

(2) In particular, the following provisions of the CPR apply—

Part 49 (Companies Court)
Part 57 (Probate, Inheritance and Presumption of Death)
Part 58 (Commercial Court)
Part 59 (Circuit Commercial Courts)
Part 60 (Technology and Construction Court Claims)
Part 61 (Admiralty Claims)
Part 62 (Arbitration Claims)
Part 63 (Intellectual Property Claims)
Part 63A (Financial List)
Part 64 (Estates, Trusts and Charities)
Practice Direction – Insolvency Proceedings
Practice Direction: Directors Disqualification Proceedings
Practice Direction PD51O (Electronic Working)
EU Competition Law Practice Direction

1.6 This Practice Direction applies to cases in the Business and Property Courts or cases which are to be issued in those courts.  In the event of inconsistency between this Practice Direction and any other Practice Direction the provisions of this Practice Direction shall prevail.

1.7 Parties will also need to give careful consideration to the Chancery Guide, the Admiralty and Commercial Courts Guide, the Technology and Construction Court Guide, the Financial List Guide, the Circuit Commercial Court Guide, the Patents Court Guide, and the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court Guide (where applicable).

Starting proceedings

2.1 Starting proceedings in the Business and Property Courts is subject to CPR Parts 7 and 8.

2.2

(1) A claimant wishing to issue a claim in the Business and Property Courts chooses which court, list or sub-list from within the Business and Property Courts in which to issue its claim, based (subject to sub-paragraph (2)) on the principal subject matter of the dispute.  
(The courts, lists and sub-lists are set out in paragraphs 1.3 and 1.4.)

(2) In cases where different aspects of the dispute indicate that the case be issued in different lists, sub-lists or courts, the claimant must consider whether there are aspects requiring the expertise of a specialist judge and choose the list, sub-list or court in which the relevant specialist judges sit.

2.3

(1) Before a claimant issues a claim in the Business and Property Courts, the claimant must determine the appropriate location in which to issue the claim.

(2) With the exception of claims started under Parts 58, 60, 61 and 62, claims which are intended to be issued in the Business and Property Courts and which have significant links to a particular circuit outside the South Eastern Circuit must be issued in the BPCs District Registry located in the circuit in question.  If a claim has significant links with more than one circuit, the claim should be issued in the location with which the claim has the most significant links.

(3) A link to a particular circuit is established where—

(a) one or more of the parties has its address or registered office in the circuit in question (with extra weight given to the address of any non-represented parties);

(b) at least one of the witnesses expected to give oral evidence at trial or other hearing is located in the circuit;

(c) the dispute occurred in a location within the circuit;

(d) the dispute concerns land, goods or other assets located in the circuit; or

(e) the parties’ legal representatives are based in the circuit.

2.4

(1) In a claim issued in London in the following courts, a hearing may, where appropriate, take place in a court in a circuit—

(a) the Commercial Court;
(b) the Admiralty Court;
(c) the Financial List;
(c) the Technology and Construction Court.

(2) A judge of the Commercial Court may, where appropriate and subject always to available judicial resources, be made available to hear a claim issued in a Circuit Commercial Court.

2.5 While any appropriate claim may be issued in any of the BPCs District Registries, the following are circumstances in which case management or trial may instead occur in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales—

(1) Where a claim is issued in the Revenue List in one of the BPCs District Registries, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs may nevertheless seek to have the proceedings case managed and/or tried in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, in accordance with CPR 30.3(2)(h) and Annex 1 of Practice Direction 66.

(2) A claim meeting the definition established in paragraph 1.1 of the EU Competition Law Practice Direction may be issued in an appropriate BPCs District Registry, but its case management and/or trial in the district registry in question will be dependent on an appropriate judge being made available in the district registry in question.

(3) A claim in the Intellectual Property List, which includes the Patents Court and the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (“IPEC”) (and includes the IPEC small claims track to which rule 63.27 applies), may be issued in an appropriate BPCs District Registry.  However the case management and/or trial of a claim in the Patents Court or the IPEC in the BPCs District Registry in question will be dependent on an appropriate judge being made available in the district registry in question.

Transfers

3.1

(1) Subject to CPR 30.2, 30.5 and 59.3, the Business and Property Courts may, having regard to the criteria in 3.1(3), order proceedings in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales or of a BPCs District Registry, or any part of such proceedings (such as a counterclaim or an application made in the proceedings), to be transferred—

(a) from the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales to the Business and Property Courts in a BPCs District Registry; or
(b) from the Business and Property Courts in a BPCs District Registry to the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales or to the Business and Property Courts in another BPCs District Registry.

(2) An application for an order under paragraph 1(b) must be made to the Business and Property Court from which the transfer is sought, and notified to the intended receiving Business and Property Court at the same time by the applicant, and must be consented to by the receiving Business and Property Court before any order for transfer is made.

(3) When considering whether to make an order under rule 30.2(4) (transfer between the Royal Courts of Justice and the district registries) when the proceedings are in the Business and Property Courts, the court must also have regard to—

(a) significant links between the claim and the circuit in question, considering the factors listed in paragraph 2.3(3) above;
(b) whether court resources, deployment constraints, or fairness require that the hearings (including the trial) be held in another court than the court into which it was issued;
(c) the wishes of the parties, which bear special weight in the decision but may not be determinative;
(d) the international nature of the case, with the understanding that international cases may be more suitable for trial in centres with international transport links;
(e) the availability of a judge specialising in the type of claim in question to sit in the court to which the claim is being transferred.

3.2 In addition to the provisions set out in CPR 30.3, the Business and Property Courts must have regard, when considering whether to make an order for transfer from the Business and Property Courts to a county court hearing centre:

(a) to the nature of the claim, in accordance with the guidance provided at paragraphs 4.2 to 4.5; and,
(b) to the availability of a judge specialising in the corresponding type of claim to sit in an appropriate court in the circuit;

3.3 When considering the availability of a judge under paragraph 3.1(e), the listing office of the court to which the claim is being transferred will be consulted before the order is made by the court.

Specialist work in the County Court

4.1 Subject to any enactment or rule relating to the jurisdiction of the County Court, the County Court at Central London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, and Preston are appropriate venues for any cases which are suitable to be heard in the County Court which fall within the definition in paragraph 4.2 as the specialist work of the type undertaken in the Business and Property Courts.

4.2 The specialist work of the type undertaken in the Business and Property Courts includes all the work that falls under the jurisdiction of the courts and lists that make up the Business and Property Courts, except for—

(a) Claims for possession of domestic property and rent and mesne profits, or in respect of domestic mortgages;
(b) Claims for possession of commercial premises or disputes arising out of business tenancies that are routine in nature;
(c) Claims falling under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, unless combined with other specialist claims;
(d) Hearings of unopposed creditors’ winding-up or bankruptcy petitions or applications to set aside statutory demands;
(e) Building claims, other than adjudication claims, of a value under £75,000;
(f) Invoice and other straightforward business claims of a value under £75,000;
(g) Boundary and easement disputes involving no conveyancing issues;
(h) Claims to enforce a charging order;
(i) Applications under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992;
(j) Proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

4.3 Claims issued in the County Court which are issued in the County Court at the hearing centres defined in paragraph 4.1 and relate to the specialist work of the type undertaken in the Business and Property Courts will be marked “Business and Property work” by the court upon allocation if they have not already been marked in that way by the claimant, and will be managed and heard only by judges specialising in this work.

4.4 Judges specialising in the County Court Business and Property work must spend a minimum of 20 percent of their time handling Business and Property work, either in the Business and Property Courts or in the County Court.

Appeals in BPCs District Registries

5.1 Specific appeal slots will be created in listing in the BPCs District Registries to accommodate blocks of applications for permission to appeal and appeals which are to be heard by a Group A judge (as defined in PD52A) in accordance with PD52A.

5.2 So far as possible these slots will be concomitant with the slots identified for cases listed in BPCs District Registries requiring a Group A judge as defined in PD52A to hear them and transferred cases referred to in paragraph 3.

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