In a world where businesses place a premium on speed and efficiency, the courts have similarly had to reform to provide for speedier justice. This has resulted in the introduction of two ‘fast trial’ schemes – one in the specialist Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), the other in the divisions of the High Court operating from the Rolls Building: the Commercial Court, Chancery Division, Technology and Construction Court and Mercantile Court. Early indications are that both schemes are attracting interest from the corporate world, but the initial cases also show that the resolution of complex legal issues does not always lend itself to speed. This article sets out the key elements of each scheme, reviews their performance so far, highlights the pros and cons of participation, and identifies potential areas for further development.

The schemes in outline

Although they commenced at the same time, the two schemes have separate origins. In the CAT, the ‘fast-track procedure’ was introduced as part of the wide ranging package of reforms brought in by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and is now set out in Rule 58 of the Competition Appeal Tribunal Rules 2015. The fast-track is a procedural complement to the expansion of the CAT’s jurisdiction to determine competition law disputes, in particular enabling the CAT to hear standalone private actions for breach of competition law. It is primarily aimed at disputes involving allegations of an abuse of dominance – claims that relate to predatory pricing, refusals to deal, unlawful tying and bundling of goods and services, exclusionary rebate schemes and other similar types of conduct.

Oct-Dec 2017 issue

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan UK LLP