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Potential impact of Brexit on Dispute Resolution

Like most people up and down the country, I have been watching with great interest the ever evolving political and economic landscape in this new post-Brexit era. There can be little doubt that this is indeed the settled course to be pursued by the Government - you only need to look to the appointment by our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, of staunch Eurosceptics in Boris Johnson and David Davis to the roles of respectively Foreign Secretary and the newly created role of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Logically, this can be the only course of action to pursue - the alternative being to try to resile from the referendum result and go cap in hand back to EU Members. Hardly attractive.

But what impact is this likely to have on England and Wales's place as a centre of excellence in dispute resolution. I suspect, very little.

It is true that we will have to go through the long, and inevitably painful, process of reviewing every piece of European legislation and jurisprudence to consider its ongoing relevance and importance in the post-Brexit era. However, I do not believe that the 'European influence' has ever played a real part in determining England and Wales's, and specifically London's, place as a centre of legal excellence.  Indeed, all of the real factors which made England and Wales, and more particularly the High Court of Justice in London and the London Court of International Arbitration, so attractive pre-Brexit are still here post-Brexit.   Specifically, we still have leading Judges to hear disputes and leading firms of solicitors and barristers to prepare and present them. We still have the same (at least for now) Court and Tribunal infrastructure, including the very popular Commercial Court (part of the High Court of Justice in London where high value, often international, disputes are heard). We still have a firm rule of law and common law heritage running back hundreds of years - which, frankly, has survived and thrived despite much greater upset and uncertainty than that created by Brexit.

I believe therefore that it is very much business as usual for commercial dispute resolution post-Brexit.

It is my view, probably shared by many in the profession, that greater threats to our continued competitiveness as a centre of legal excellence on the world scene come from internal factors entirely unrelated to Brexit. Those include, without limitation, the ever shrinking availability of Legal Aid, the seemingly incessant rise in Court fees and the proposed extension of the fixed costs regime. However, these matters are rarely glamorous enough to win the battle for inches in the broadsheets and will inevitably lose out to Mrs May's outfit of the day or Brexit scaremongering.

 

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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