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What is the Commercial Court?

By Nick Oza
Updated May 17, 2024
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A commercial court deals with resolving disputes in various aspects of commerce. Many of the developed nations of the world have commercial courts established. Jurisdictions with commercial courts include France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, England, New Zealand and many states in the United States as well as certain provinces in Canada. Some commercial courts are constituted separately from existing courts that deal with other civil and criminal legal matters. Many such commercial courts use lay judges with business experience.

Some commercial courts are not separate from existing courts but are merely divisions of them. The handful of judges in such commercial courts are experienced and have expertise in commercial matters. Familiar in other areas of law, judges in such commercial courts not only deal with commercial matters but are also rotated within different areas of law in the existing courts.

In England, the Commercial Court is part of the High Court of Justice, the country's major civil court. The High Court of Justice has three basic divisions: the Queen's Bench Division, the Chancery Division and the Family Division. The Queen's Bench Division deals with a wide range of cases involving personal injury and contract law. The Chancery Division looks after matters pertaining to mortgages, land, trusts, estates, intellectual property and bankruptcy, and the Family Division deals with matters such as medical treatment, probate, divorce and children.

England's Commercial Court is a subdivision of the Queen's Bench Division. Business of the commercial court is subject to the Civil Procedure Rules, which apply to civil cases in England. There is particular emphasis in the Commercial Court on dealing with matters pertaining to international trade, commodities, commercial disputes, insurance and the operation of markets and exchanges.

Commercial law is dealt with in high volume by the Commercial Court, with the more complex cases being dealt with by the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. The Chancery Division also hears commercial matters. In addition to the Commercial Court, there also is a specially constituted Companies Court. This is to allow a speedy resolution of commercial disputes by a body that has expertise in commercial enterprise.

Regardless of their differences, the primary objective of all commercial courts is to resolve commercial disputes as effectively and expediently as possible. Where commercial courts exist, there is a marked increase in disposition rates and a significant reduction in disposition times. Commercial courts also help attract new business to jurisdictions by creating a judicial infrastructure.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By gravois — On Oct 18, 2011

Its interesting to think about the realtionship between a commercial court and a free market. It seems like in a truly free market, disputes and conflicts would be left for the market to take care of. But obviously this would lead inevitably to all kinds of problems. Business is, by its very definition, amoral, and it needs a higher structure to try and smooth out some of its natural ills. Are there any economists or business people out there who can speak more to this issue?

By ZsaZsa56 — On Oct 17, 2011

Do we have commercial courts here in the United States? A lot of the issues mentioned, copyright, espionage, intellectual property and the like are just as much issues here as elsewhere and yet I can't recall every hearing the term commercial court used here in the states.

I am trying to think back to the big Microsoft anti trust case from about 10 years ago. That was a big piece of business news that had a significant legal dimension, but I can't remember where it all played out. How does commercial law work in the US?

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