London will remain seat of arbitration, despite Brexit

Brexit will not have any significant effect on the English arbitration market. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU will not diminish the many advantages of London as a seat of arbitration, two top legal minds said yesterday.

Speaking on the potential impact of Brexit upon litigation and arbitration in London, Catriona Nicol of McNair Chambers and McNair’s Head of Chambers Professor Khawar Qureshi said here, English Law is seen as the default choice of law for around 30 percent of commercial contracts, and London is the pre-eminent commercial litigation as well as international arbitration centre in the world.

Professor Qureshi said some commercial parties have expressed concern that a Brexit, “no deal” or otherwise, may have the potential to impact adversely on London’s position in this regard. Professor Qureshi observed that “whilst uncertainty is always unwelcome, the strong legal framework and outstanding reputation of English Law, English Courts and London as the seat of arbitration are unlikely to be impacted significantly long term by Brexit – even if “no deal” is the outcome.

The UK Government has already taken steps to try to ensure minimal disruption regarding the legal landscape concerning the EU, and issues relating to the jurisdiction of Courts as well as enforcement of civil and commercial steps. It is hoped that outstanding issues can be addressed with minimal delay and disruption, he said.

Elaborating on the future of litigation and arbitration in London after Brexit, Professor Qureshi said the UK is the largest legal services market in Europe and second only to the US globally. In 2017, total revenue from legal services in the UK stood at over £33.4bn.

Professor Qureshi said the year 2017 witnessed a total of 17,973 cases issued in Business and Property courts in England & Wales. Of those, almost 1200 were issued in Admiralty and Commercial courts of which 78 percent involved at least one party outside England & Wales and 51 percent where all parties were international. He said English Law is used in 40 percent of global arbitration.

Professor Qureshi noted that Queen Mary/White & Case Survey in 2018 found 64 percent of respondents selected London as their preferred seat for arbitration.

Catriona Nicol observed the issue of Brexit is highly controversial and has shown deep divisions within the UK. In the absence of any major developments, some form of departure by the UK from the EU in the next couple of months seems likely.

Professor Qureshi added that the impact of Brexit is in large part a matter of perception of UK/London as place to do business and litigate/arbitrate. One area where some treaty-based agreement will need to be adopted urgently is to replace existing mechanisms concerning with EU enforcement of civil/commercial judgments.

McNair Chambers is the first ever Barristers’ Chambers to be established outside England, in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)


Source from: The Peninsula