Guidance

Take a business dispute to the Commercial Court

How to use the Commercial Court to solve a large, complex or international business dispute.

Cases dealt with by the court

You can use the Commercial Court for a wide range of complex business disputes, such as disagreements over:

  • international trade
  • commodities
  • banking and financial services
  • insurance
  • arbitration awards

The court handles the most difficult and high value business disputes.

If your case is smaller and less complex you can use the Mercantile Court.

Read the Admiralty and Commercial Courts guide for details of how to use the court.

Help and support

You will need to get help and advice from a solicitor or barrister.

Court staff can explain how the process works, but can’t give you legal advice.

Before you start

You may have to follow certain steps before starting legal action, such as writing to the other side in the dispute.

For details, check the pre-action protocols.

Start a court case

To start a case, fill in the relevant form below.

Write ‘Queen’s Bench Division, Commercial Court’ in the top right hand corner of the form.

You’ll need to use the part 7 form for most types of claim.

Use the part 8 form if the main facts aren’t in dispute – eg if you only disagree with the way a contract has been interpreted.

See a full list of Commercial Court forms.

Pay the court fee

You will have to pay a court fee to start the case, which will be based on how much you want to claim in money or compensation.

Value of claim Court fee to start a claim
£10,000 to £20,000 5% of the amount
More than £200,000 £10,000

You can pay with a credit/debit card, or a postal order or cheque (paid to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’).

You may have to pay another £1,090 fee for a court hearing later on.

Send the form to the court

You can file your documents electronically. This online service also enables you to search cases, order copies of documents and pay fees.

Or send the form to:

Admiralty and Commercial Court
Rolls Building
7 Rolls Buildings
Fetter Lane
London
EC4A 1NL

Email: comct.issue@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 7947 6112
Fax: 0870 761 7725

Serve the form on the defendant

Send or deliver a copy of the form to the company which will be defending the claim, along with the relevant forms below:

Part 7 claim Part 8 claim
Acknowledgment of service form Acknowledgment of service form
Notes for defendant (on N1CC claim form) Notes for the defendant (on N208CC claim form)

You can also include details of your case, known as the particulars of claim, or send them within the next 28 days.

Give the court a certificate of service to confirm you’ve served the documents.

Find out more about how to serve the form.

After you serve the form

A defendant in England and Wales will have 14 days to confirm they have received your claim and 28 days to reply with their defence.

They can ask for more time when they return the acknowledgment form.

They will have longer to respond if they are based abroad or elsewhere in the UK.

If they don’t respond, you can ask the court to decide on the case.

If they respond, you will have to send more details about your case, known as the particulars of claim.

Getting ready for the trial

You will usually have to go to a meeting called a case management conference to agree what steps you need to take before the trial.

These could include producing documents or arranging for witnesses to give evidence.

A judge will:

  • identify the issues in the case
  • work out how long the trial will last
  • set a date for the trial

There may also be a ‘pre-trial review’ meeting in the 2 months before the trial, to check you’re ready.

You may have to wait several months for a trial – or longer if the trial is likely to last more than a few days. Check the Commercial Court lead times for details.

The hearing

The trial will be in front of a Commercial Judge.

During the trial, both sides will have the chance to:

  • make opening and closing statements
  • call expert witnesses
  • present expert reports
  • question the witnesses

The courtroom will usually be open to the public.

The decision

In most cases you won’t find out the decision on the final day of the hearing.

The court will usually send you a copy of the draft judgment, to check for typos or other textual errors.

The judge or registrar will then issue the judgment.

If you disagree with the decision

If you disagree with the decision, you can ask the court for permission to appeal.

If you’re turned down you can still apply to the higher court for permission.

Find out more about using the Court of Appeal.

You may be able to claim back these costs if you win, but you could be made to pay the defendant’s costs if you lose.

The judge will take into account how both sides acted during the case before deciding to allow or award costs.

Previous decisions

The court’s decisions on earlier cases are published on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website.

Legislation and rules

You can find detailed rules on using the court in part 58 and practice direction 58 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

Published 11 November 2015
Last updated 18 July 2018 + show all updates
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