UK: Litigation Trends

Last Updated: 6 February 2015
Article by Neil Jamieson

The Ministry of Justice has published its statistics for judicial and court activity in England and Wales for 2013. The figures published show that overall the volume of litigation dealt with by the Royal Courts of Justice in London increased by 23% compared to 2012. The 2014 figures are expected out later in 2015 when we will send another briefing note.

This increase resulted from a significant rise in the number of claims in the Companies Court and smaller rises in the Bankruptcy, Chancery, Technology and Construction and Commercial Courts (see Fig. 1). The Companies Court saw the highest increase in claims – a 59% increase since 2012.

Queen's Bench Division

In the Queen's Bench Division of the Royal Courts of Justice, London (not including figures for the Admiralty, Technology and Construction and Commercial Courts), the number of new claims decreased by 363 (a 6.5% decrease on 2012 numbers).

A fifth of the 5,186 claims issued were debt claims, a 6% decrease from 2012. The number of tort claims increased from 56 to 111 (by 100%). Personal injury claims decreased from 1,053 to 950 (by 9.7%), clinical negligence claims increased from 1,012 to 1,132 (by 12%) and the number of debt claims decreased significantly from 1,434 to 1,037 (by 28%).

There were increases in miscellaneous claims from 594 to 663 (12%), and breach of contract claims decreased in number from 984 to 891 (by 11%). Defamation claims decreased by 24%. The picture is shown at Figure.2.

Across the whole of England and Wales, in the Queen's Bench Division (including London) 13,053 claims were started, representing a decrease of 10% compared to 2012 and a decrease of 30% compared to 2009 when there was a peak in claim numbers.

Chancery Division

In the Chancery Division (not including the Companies and Bankruptcy Courts), the number of claims and originating proceedings issued in London was 5,546 – 11% higher than in 2012. Please see Fig.3 for a breakdown of the types of claim.

Across England and Wales in the Chancery Division (including London) 28,615 claims were started, representing a decrease of 1% compared to 2012 and a decrease of 37% compared to the peak in 2009.

Companies and Bankruptcy Courts

In the Companies Court (which deals primarily with liquidations) in London there was a significant rise (59%) in claims. The rise in claims in the rest of England & Wales was smaller – 1.4%. There was a 14% increase in claims in the Bankruptcy Court.

Professional negligence claims

After the 2009 peak in professional negligence claims issued in the London Chancery and Queen's Bench Divisions, claims followed a downward trend. However, in 2013, professional negligence claims in the Chancery Division in London increased from 89 to 99 (by 11%) compared to 2012. In 2013 in the London Queen's Bench division, the number of "negligence claims" (which includes professional negligence claims) also increased from 228 to 258 (by 13%).

Technology & Construction Court and the Commercial Court

Following a decrease of 16% in the Technology & Construction Court (TCC) from 2011 to 2012, claims increased by 7% from 2012 to 2013 (see Fig. 5).

In the Commercial Court, following a spike in 2011 which saw the number of claims rise even higher than 2009 levels, levels of work dropped in 2012 by 14%. Since the drop in 2012, claims increased slightly in 2013 by 5% (see Fig. 6). Of the 1,198 claims issued in the Commercial Court in 2013, around 20% related to arbitration. This is slightly lower than the percentage for 2012 (23%) and the same as 2011 (20%).

The Appellate Courts

In the UK Supreme Court (UKSC), 203 applications for permission to appeal from the civil divisions of the Court of Appeal and High Court (an increase of 22% since 2012) were decided, of which 66 were allowed and 137 refused.

As for full appeals presented to the UKSC from the civil divisions of the Court of Appeal and High Court, 44 were allowed and 47 were dismissed. The number allowed in 2013 was more than the 25 appeals allowed in 2012 (see Fig. 7).

In the Court of Appeal's Civil Division, the numbers of final appeals filed and disposed of were down by 3% and 1% respectively compared to 2012. The proportions of appeals allowed decreased by 11.5% in comparison to 2012.

Costs assessments

Statistics for the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) show that the number of assessments of bills more than doubled from 1,067 in 2012 to a peak of 2,333 in 2013 (see Fig. 8).


The biggest change from 2012 to 2013 was in the Companies Court (59%), although there were also increases in the Bankruptcy, Chancery, TCC and Commercial Courts, as well as a large increase in costs assessments. Given the improving financial outlook during that period, the increase in insolvency related litigation is surprising and may be a culmination of the effects of earlier years or a sign that for smaller businesses conditions were still harsh. The large proportion of claims issued in the Commercial Court relating to arbitration (approximately 20%) shows continued high levels of interest in the arbitration process as an alternative to court proceedings. This is something that may continue if court fees are increased substantially as a result of the current consultation process which proposes, for example, that the issue fee for a claim form for a claim in excess of GBP 200,000 would rise to 5% so that a GBP 1 million claim would cost GBP 50,000 to issue.

Finally, professional negligence claims rose slightly in 2013 compared to the previous year and we will be focusing more closely on that trend in our next edition. We anticipate that in 2015 the numbers of litigated professional indemnity claims may well be down in favour of mediation and adjudication, given the likely dramatic rise in court fees.

Fig. 1

Originating Proceedings in the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Chancery Division, Queen's Bench Division, Admiralty Court, Technology and Construction Court, Commercial Court, Companies Court and Bankruptcy Court)

Fig. 2

Claims in the Queen's Bench Division in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, by nature of proceedings

Fig. 3

Claims in the Chancery Division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, by nature of proceedings

Fig. 4

Professional negligence claims in the Chancery and Queen's Bench Division in the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Fig. 5

Caseload of the Technology and Construction Court in the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Fig. 6

Claims issued in the Commercial Court in the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Fig. 7

Civil appeals from the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) disposed of by the House of Lords and Supreme Court

Final appeals disposed of by the Court of Appeal (Civil Division)

Fig. 8

Number of "between parties" assessments by the Senior Courts Costs Officer

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.