Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 771 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COMMERCIAL COURT, in England, a court presided over by a single judge of the king's bench division, for the trial, as expeditiously as may be, of commercial cases. By the Rules of the Supreme Court, Order xviii. a (made in November 1893), a plaintiff was allowed to dispense with pleadings altogether, provided that the indorsement of his writ of summons contained a statement sufficient to give notice of his claim, or of the relief or remedy required in the action, and stating that the plaintiff intended to proceed to trial without pleadings. The judge might, on the application of the defendant, order a statement of claim to be delivered, or the action to proceed to trial without pleadings, and if necessary particulars of the claim or defence to be delivered. Out of this order grew the commercial court. It is not a distinct court or division or branch of the High Court, and is not regulated by any special rules of court made by the rule committee. It originated in a notice issued by the judges of the queen's bench division, in February 1895 (see W.N., and of March 1895), the provisions contained in which represent only " a practice agreed on by the judges, who have the right to deal by convention among themselves with this mode of disposing of the business in their courts" (per Lord Esher in Barry v. Peruvian Corporation, 1896, I Q. B. p. 209). A separate list of causes of a commercial character is made and assigned to a particular judge, charged with commercial business, to whom all applications before the trial are made. The 8th paragraph is as follows: Such judge may at any time after appearance and without pleadings make such order as he thinks fit for the speedy determination, in accordance with existing rules, of the questions really in controversy between the parties. Practitioners before Sir George Jessel, at the rolls, in the years 1873 to r88o, will be reminded of his mode of ascertaining the point in controversy and bringing it to a speedy determination. Obviously the scheme is only applicable to cases in which there is some single issue of law or fact, or the case depends on the construction of some contract or other instrument or section of an act of parliament, and such issue or question is either agreed upon by the parties or at once ascertainable by the judge. The success of the scheme also depends largely on the personal qualities of the judge to whom the list is assigned. Under the able guidance of Mr (afterwards Lord) Justice Mathew (d. 1908), the commercial court became very successful in bringing cases to a speedy and satisfactory determination without any technicality or unnecessary expense.

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