Proposals for a Centralised Fraud Court

On 9 October 2017, the City of London Corporation announced plans for a new court to be built in the Square Mile focussing on fraud, economic crime and cyber crime.

The proposed new combined court is intended to be a state of the art multi-purpose court to replace all of the City of London courts apart from the Old Bailey. It will also hear other criminal and civil cases. The court is expected to be built near Fleet Street, in close proximity to the leading technology, financial and professional services firms. The City of London Corporation will be commissioning a feasibility study to analyse the cost implications and possible funding sources, which is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Joe Hancock, Cyber Security Lead at Mishcon de Reya says:

“There can be no doubt that reports of cyber crime continue to grow at an unprecedented pace. The National Audit Office recently reported that fraud accounted for roughly 31% (3.6 million incidents) of all crime in England and Wales and of these, cyber fraud accounted for approximately 53% (1.9 million incidents). Businesses and individuals are starting to feel the impact cyber crime can have on their organisations and lives, and are beginning to take positive steps to deal with the threats they face. 

It is a positive development that cyber crime is being considered in the same context as fraud and economic crime and active steps are being considered to try and combat it.

Gareth Minty, Managing Associate in the Mishcon de Reya Business Crime team says:

“While news of investment in the courts system is always welcome, it is too early to say whether this initiative will result in a meaningful improvement in the ability of victims of economic and cyber crime to access justice. The scale of fraud is well documented, representing as it now does the crime of which individuals and corporates are most likely to fall victim. It remains to be seen whether this development will be used also as an opportunity to pursue new and innovative ways in which cases are able to move through the criminal justice system. We will also watch with interest to see whether this move will prompt a related injection of resources for those charged with investigating and prosecuting the very cases that will be expected to fill this new court.”       

Claire Broadbelt, a Partner in the Mishcon de Reya Fraud Defence team says:

The reports to date suggest that the focus of the new court will be on the criminal, rather than civil, consequences of fraud, economic crime and cyber crime. The recent changes implementing the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales were intended to enhance the UK’s already respected reputation for international dispute resolution. Therefore, it would be surprising if this new fraud court also covered civil disputes arising from fraud, economic crime and cyber crime. However, whilst further detail is awaited on the scope of the new court, it could be argued that the rationale for creating a combined court creates efficiencies and concentrates expertise amongst the legal community and the judiciary. A similar observation was made in relation to the proposal for confiscation courts in the Home Affairs Committee report on Proceeds of Crime in June 2016. These types of considerations may come into much sharper focus when the proposed offence of failure to prevent economic crime is back on the agenda.”

For more commentary on this topic, please see: City of London announces plans for new Fraud and Cyber Crime Court.