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For several years, the specialist judges of the Chancery and Queen's Bench Divisions in London, including those who sit in the Patents Court and Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ("IPEC") or hear other cases in the Intellectual Property List, have worked together in the Rolls Building. Since 2 Oct 2017, those judges together with the specialist judges in Birmingham and other major cities have been known collectively as "The Business and Property Courts". I wrote about the development in Launch of a Judicial Superhighway? 12 July 2017 IP Northwest, The Leeds Business and Property Courts 12 July 2017 IP Yorkshire and "Better than the M4 - The Judicial Superhighway" 2 Oct 2017 NIPC Severn.
According to Ed Pepperall QC, the national network of Business and Property Courts was a Birmingham idea. He discussed its conception and development in The significance of the new Business and Property Courts – a view from the Bar. His article is a contribution to a new introduction to the Business and Property Courts in Birmingham which was compiled by the Midlands Chancery and Commercial Bar Association and published by LexisNexis.
The introduction states that one of the advantages of the project will be the integration of the courts sitting in Birmingham with those in London:
"The B&PCs will be a single umbrella for business specialist courts across England and Wales. There will be a super-highway between the B&PCs at the Rolls Building and those in the regions to ensure that international businesses and domestic enterprises are equally supported in the resolution of their disputes."It adds:
"Lord Justice Briggs’ reports have consistently recommended, and the Judicial Executive Board has accepted, that no case should be too big to be tried outside London. We should be able to provide an integrated Business & Property Courts structure across England & Wales. The aim is to achieve a critical mass of specialist judges sitting in each of the Business & Property regional centres so that all classes of case can be managed and tried in those regions. At the moment, many such cases migrate to the Rolls Building for a multitude of inadequate reasons. Once there, they are often tried by a section 9 circuit judge from the region whence the case originated. It should become easier to transfer regional cases back to the regions for management and trial.If specialist cases are tried regularly in Birmingham and the other major regional court centres more local practitioners will develop expertise in patents, registered and registered Community designs, semiconductor topographies and plant breeders' rights which are reserved by CPR 63.2 to the Patents Court and IPEC in London. Although the Patents Court and IPEC Guides have always stated that the Assigned and Enterprise judges are ready and willing to sit outside London for the convenience of the parties and to save time and costs, a patents trial outside London does not happen very often. I can think of only one case, Hadley Industries Plc v Metal Sections Ltd and another  EWHC Patents 284 where that happened and that was nearly 20 years ago. In that case, the claimant's solicitors were in Birmingham and the defendant's in Nottingham but the counsel (one of whom is now an assigned judge) came from London.
Waiting times are considerably less in the regional centres than they are at the Rolls Building. In all the Business & Property Courts and Lists, a High Court judge can be provided to try an appropriate case outside London."
In addition to an overview and chapter by Mr Pepperall, the introduction contains profiles of the judges who sit regularly in the Birmingham Business and Property Courts and lists useful email addresses and phone numbers and useful practice notes such as "Where to start a claim" and other guidance.
Should anyone wish to discuss this article or the Business and Property Courts generally, he or she should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.