Welcome to the 2018 edition of Getting the Deal Through – Dispute Resolution. It gives us great pleasure to act as contributing editors of this publication (and co-authors of the England & Wales chapter) together with experts from numerous other jurisdictions.
The legal industry’s evolution remains inextricably linked to the external factors surrounding it. Developments over the last year, as with recent years before it, have taken place against a backdrop of continued technological advancement and a degree of political uncertainty across the world. From the turn of the century, digitalisation has had a tremendous impact in virtually all professional fields. Its impact seems to proliferate year on year, and 2017 was no different. The legal industry, often associated with rich history and time-honoured traditions, has had to find a way to keep pace with technological advances.
Parties are demonstrating greater concern regarding cybersecurity and data protection. Across the EU, the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will undoubtedly mark a significant development in data use and the law generally. While of course the number and nature of disputes arising out of the new regulation is uncertain, an increase in compensation claims for data protection breaches can confidently be expected.
As for the influence of technology on procedure, here in England and Wales the government took further steps in 2017 to implement its ‘Transforming our Justice System’ vision. A pilot online facility was launched for civil money claims of up to £10,000 in the County Court, and electronic filing became compulsory for claims within the Rolls Building, providing greater ease with which to manage filings and pay court fees. Teething problems may be expected in the overhaul of any long-established procedure, but such changes seek to take advantage of the technology now available, and promise the fruits of greater efficiency and control for parties, litigators and courts alike.
Political uncertainty in some regions of the world, and the outcome of Brexit, will also continue to influence the legal industry in many jurisdictions. However, this does not yet appear to have put litigants off from considering the courts of England and Wales as one of the eminent centres for dispute resolution. The ‘Great Repeal Bill’, which aims to maintain the status quo of European law in the UK in the immediate future, remains subject to ongoing scrutiny. Meanwhile, a long-term framework for the UK post-Brexit remains to be seen. Nonetheless, in the year ahead we eagerly anticipate greater clarity on the eventual shape of dispute resolution in the UK, the effects of which may resonate across Europe and jurisdictions across the world.
Finally, we would like to thank each of the authors for their insight and contributions to this year’s edition.