Liverpool Business and Property Court to hear more cases

Neil Cadwallader, who has enjoyed a long career as a barrister on the Northern Circuit, is the city’s first full-time Business and Property Court Judge. Tony McDonough reports

Neil Cadwallader
Neil Cadwallader, Liverpool’s Business and Property Court Judge


More legal cases involving business and property will be heard in Liverpool following the appointment of the city’s first full-time Business and Property Court Judge for Chancery and Circuit commercial cases.

Neil Cadwallader, who has enjoyed a long career as a barrister on the Northern Circuit, was appointed to the role in November 2020. And now, with COVID-19 restrictions easing, more cases will be heard in person.

HHJ Cadwallader is authorised to hear High Court and County Court cases, right across the board (with a few minor exceptions), including Chancery, Circuit commercial and technology and construction Court cases. 

It means that Liverpool is no longer dependent on other cities for the provision of specialist Circuit Judges to hear High and County Court cases. It also allows Liverpool practitioners to obtain, for example, urgent, corporate or insolvency relief locally, meaning that local practitioners can appear in a court which can be aware of and responsive to their needs. 

“It has been said many times that no case too large for the regions – and it is true,” said HHJ Cadwallader. “As well as hearing cases myself my role includes liaising with the Chancery Division and the Commercial Court in London to ensure that cases requiring the attention of a full High Court judge can get it – and get it in Liverpool. 

“As part of ensuring that happens, I expect to be sitting in London about six weeks in every year once pandemic restrictions make that feasible.”

He said it was “pleasing” to see an increase in the number of Chancery and Circuit Commercial cases issued in Liverpool, adding: “I hope this trend will continue, and that the opportunity for this jurisdiction to serve the Liverpool area in particular will increasingly be taken up.

“Looking to the future, my hope is that the Business and Property Courts in Liverpool continue to develop at a much faster rate, with a wider variety and larger number of heavyweight cases being heard.”

The Business and Property Courts in Liverpool, which opened in February 2018, have also developed a range of new services for court users in recent months.

HHJ Cadwallader explained: “An applications day is listed before me every Monday, just as, in the same way, an applications day is listed every Friday in Manchester. Longer or more urgent applications will be fitted in at other times as necessary. 

“Arrangements have been made for urgent out of hours applications to be heard by me, or in my absence, by other judges.  A new team leader has also been appointed to the court office, to reflect the increasing importance of Business and Property Court work in Liverpool.”

And on the increase in cases begin heard in person, he added: “While remote hearings are certainly here to stay, as pandemic restrictions ease, I would expect the default position to revert to one in which hearings are held in person unless there is good reason otherwise.

“I certainly look forward to that time. However, the savings in time and costs in holding uncontentious or merely procedural hearings remotely strongly support the idea that such hearings are likely to continue to be held remotely unless there is good reason not to.

“Although remote hearings offer substantial savings in terms of costs and travel time, perhaps the most important thing which is lost, although the most intangible, is the felt sense of being really in the presence of the judge and of the other participants.

“I invite legal practitioners and litigants to make confident use of the service which the Court can provide to resolve legal disputes, quickly, fairly, proportionately and correctly.”

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