Kevin O'Higgins Solicitors

Commercial disputes halve amid debtors' deals and firms choosing out-of-court mediation

Sunday, 10 April, 2016
Dearbhail McDonald

The number of new cases entered into the country's fast-track Commercial Court have halved since 2010 as banks work through actions involving major debtors and companies opt for out-of-court mediation and arbitration.

However, the low number of new, 'for-value' business disputes, such as company, specific performance, patent, intellectual property and statutory appeals over pension arrangements - a bellwether of an improved economy - has raised concerns about wider economic activity.

Almost 300 disputes were granted entry into the Commercial Court in 2010, dropping to 148 cases last year.

Only 26 new cases sought entry to the Commercial Court, which deals with cases valued at more than €1m, in the first three months of this year.

The Commercial Court entry list is dominated by the 'big six' or 'magic circle' corporate law firms, including Arthur Cox, A&L Goodbody, Mason Hayes & Curran, Matheson, McCann Fitzgerald and William Fry.

Almost all firms have recorded a reduction in the number of clients seeking entry to the Commercial Court according to year-on-year data compiled by the Sunday Independent.

The Commercial Court, formerly led by High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly, was set up in 2004 to fast-track big-business disputes and make Ireland an attractive place to transact business, especially for big corporations.

The average period for conclusion of a case in the court is 21 weeks, with 50pc of cases determined within 16 weeks.

Sunday Indo Business