London’s lead in litigation ‘still under threat’

London’s lead position in cross-border dispute resolution is being undermined by Brexit, judicial competition, and the ‘extravagant’ cost of civil litigation in the UK, the former president of the Paris Commercial Court has said.

Jean Messinesi told the Gazette that ‘uncertainties still prevail’ around the enforcement of UK judgments in EU countries after the end of the Brexit transition period. ‘Even if the UK were to accede to the Lugano Convention, the four-step accession process means that it would not come into force before a year and a half, at best,’ he said.

The Law Society has urged the EU to allow the UK to sign up to Lugano, which would allow civil and commercial judgments to be recognised across borders.

Messinesi, now a senior adviser at consultancy Zalis SAS, added that the ‘extravagant cost’ of civil litigation in the UK and the emergence of international competition in judicial services are also eroding London’s position. ‘Access to justice in France is significantly more affordable and it is increasingly clear that legal departments in international firms are under pressure to contain legal costs and to choose alternative, yet respectable and reliable, jurisdictions for the solution of possible disputes,’ he said.

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have all created English-language business courts to compete with London as a commercial dispute resolution centre.

The Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) has reported getting off to a ‘great start’ since opening in January 2019. The court dealt with seven cases in 2019 and 2020 – most of which related to international contract disputes – and two cases are still pending.

The organization for the Dutch courts, De Raad voor de Rechtspraak, said prospects are ‘good’ for the NCC, as more contracts are including clauses designating NCC as the court to resolve any disputes. ‘Such contracts are likely to generate work in the months and years to come,’ it said.

However, London has continued to perform strongly in spite of European pressure. According to a February 2020 report, international disputes dominate the work of the Commercial Court, accounting for 75% of business.

Meanwhile, a report last June found there had been no fall-off in court business between January and March 2020, and virtually no backlog of cases as a result of the pandemic.

Mickaël Laurans, head of international at the Law Society, said the ‘very attractive’ nature of English law is unchanged by Brexit. He added that while Brexit has made it ‘more complex’ to enforce English judgments in the EU, large companies will still be able to get judgments recognised and enforced.

‘Lugano is very much about access to justice for people who might not have the means to go through all the procedures,’ Laurans said.

Everything You Should Know About Civil Litigation Lawsuits

Civil litigation lawsuits can be highly confusing if you’re not an attorney. The legal jargon is enough to make your head spin sometimes. However, if you’re on either end of a civil action, then you need to know what the process is going to be, and how the suit is likely to move forward.

Civil litigation lawsuits happen every day. Whether you’re the one bringing the action or defending yourself, you’re certainly going to want a good lawyer by your side who can fight for your best interest.

With that in mind, let’s go through how the process works.

What Exactly is a Civil Litigation Lawsuit?

A civil lawsuit:

  • Is when one person tries to hold another individual accountable for a wrongful action
  • Often ends with monetary compensation if the court agrees with the plaintiff

The real difference between a civil action and a criminal one is that criminal cases seek to punish the guilty. With civil actions, the wronged party wants to get compensation. The process starts with the wronged party bringing a complaint against the one who they perceive is at fault.

The standard for a guilty verdict is lower in civil lawsuits.

Talking to Your Lawyer

Unless you’re well-versed in the law and want to represent yourself, you should almost always consult with a lawyer before proceeding any further, because they can tell you if you have a case or not. You might feel like someone did you wrong, but that does not necessarily mean that a court will feel the same way.

What your lawyer is trying to get from your description of the events is whether or not there’s precedent. If they feel like there are prior legal examples of people getting financial compensation for something like what happened to you, they’re going to take the case and encourage you to move ahead with it.


Pleadings will be next. This is where:

  • You will file paperwork in court laying out what the individual did to you
  • They will file responding paperwork, called an answer

You and your attorney must then figure out what court you can use that’s appropriate for your case. You need to have what’s called personal jurisdiction with the court you choose.

This means that you must have a proper relationship with the county, state, or federal jurisdiction where you intend the trial to take place.

The Discovery Process

The discovery process will be next. This is where you obtain information of various kinds that strengthens your case. You have to provide the material you’re going to use against them to the defendant’s legal counsel.

This way, they know what’s coming. You’re not allowed to hide evidence against the individual who wronged you or their legal counsel. This way, there should be a level playing field, at least in theory.

Discovery evidence might include witness testimony transcripts or recordings, various documents, physical evidence, etc.

The Trial

You only proceed with the trial in a civil case if you cannot settle out of court. Settling out of court happens fairly often. If the individual or business entity against which you’re bringing the action sees that you have a solid case against them, their attorney might feel that it’s in their best interest to offer a cash settlement.

Whether you want to take it will be up to you, and your lawyer can help you in this area. If you refuse the settlement offer and go to trial, then you might lose and get nothing. However, if you feel like the sum they’re offering you as recompense does not equal the wrong they did to you, you have every right to go to trial.

The trial will proceed, with both sides trying to prove their case. If you do come out on the winning end, then you’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself, but there is one more step before you can collect your money.

The Appeals Process

At this point, the opposing counsel can file appeals in the form of various motions they present to an appellate court. The appellate court will look for errors that took place during the trial. If there are irregularities, they might overturn the verdict or reduce the amount that the guilty party has to pay.

If you’re able to collect a judgment from a civil case, then perhaps you’ll feel better about what happened. This is a way of getting justice and trying to balance the scales when someone has done wrong.


Susan Melony