Scotland's premier forum for resolution of commercial disputes, the Commercial Court of the Court of Session, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The event has been marked by judicial comment in speeches and decisions. These comments have highlighted the purpose of the Commercial Court as ensuring the effective and efficient conduct of commercial actions.

Active Judicial Case Management

The Court uses active judicial case management to promote the efficient conduct of commercial actions. The Commercial Judges are equipped with a range of powers to allow them to narrow the issues for resolution at an early stage in a commercial action.

One of the most important of the powers available to the Commercial Judges is the power to dispense with the usual requirements of litigation. That can result in considerable savings in the cost of an action. As it was colourfully put by one of the Commercial Judges: "if you want to roll up to the Commercial Court in a Mini, we won't always insist you pimp it up into a Rolls Royce".

Early Resolution - the Commercial Court

Perhaps the hardest challenge for any system of dispute resolution is whether it can achieve the early resolution of high value and legally complex disputes within a short space of time.

Our experience is that it can be done in the Commercial Court. To take one example, we acted in a legally complex and high value dispute which was extremely contentious and urgently in need of resolution. The Commercial Court was able to fix a hearing to resolve all the disputed issues within two months of the commencement of the action by interim interdict.

That very tight timetable focused minds and allowed the negotiation of a deal which resolved the dispute and avoided the cost of the final hearing.

Early Resolution - Choosing the Process

Perhaps the key to unlocking early resolution of commercial disputes is the identification of the right process.

Arbitration offers the advantage of privacy. Mediation can restore damaged relationships.

But it remains the case that some complex and high value commercial disputes will not be amenable to these processes and are best resolved by litigation in the Commercial Court.

Not every commercial action will be suitable for early resolution. But in the right circumstances the Commercial Court can move swiftly to bring about early resolution of important and urgent disputes.


Donald Muir

Legal Director