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'Sharp rise' in high-value commercial litigation

16 per cent increase the result of disputes from the recession, RPC says

8 April 2014

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There was a "sharp rise" in litigation at the Commercial Court last year, City firm RPC has reported.

RPC said the 16 per increase in complex commercial cases was the result of major disputes from the recession filtering through to the courts in greater numbers.

"The fact this sharp increase is happening now is likely to be as a result of the length of time it can take for a claimant to pull together a major case or simply that the parties have failed to reach a deal, and in the eyes of the claimant litigation is the only option," a spokesman for the firm said.

According to statistics from the High Court, the number of cases launched in the Commercial Court rose from 1,167 in 2012 to 1,353 last year.

"This kind of 'big-ticket' litigation tends to be quite complex as well as very contentious - it's not something that can be rushed to court," Geraldine Elliott, head of commercial litigation at RPC, said.

"So there's bound to be a time-lag between disputes arising during the downturn and when they start to come through the system.

"Sometimes high-value or large-scale claims can take several years to actually get as far as filing a claim let alone a court hearing, which is why we are seeing such an upswing in cases coming to court now, even as we start to leave the recession behind us."

Andy McGregor, partner in RPC's financial disputes team, said banking litigation was an area where more high-value claims would come through the pipeline.

"This is not just about the fines and penalties which may be awarded and the damages which the banks may have to pay in civil litigation - huge sums will be needed just to cover the huge cost of investigations," McGregor said.

"Potential claimants in civil litigation are well aware that proving their losses will be a long and difficult process."

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