As Lord Mayor, one of my titles is Chief Magistrate of the City of London. While the title is now largely honorary, for centuries it meant the Lord Mayor would actually sit as a magistrate in his own court and give judgments. While the Lord Mayor no longer oversees court cases, it is still part of the Lord Mayor’s duty as Chief Magistrate to preside over the formal opening of sessions at the Central Criminal Court.
So the role of Lord Mayor goes hand in hand with the principle that the City of London should be a centre for justice – Just as the success of the City of London has gone hand in hand with a trusted legal system, excellence in legal services and a reputation as a place where contracts will be honoured and disputes will be fairly resolved. As Lord Mayor, I am a constant witness to the value of the unique cluster of legal expertise and services we have here in the City and what an asset this is for the UK.
Our courts, along with our Inns of Court, are a crucial part of the City’s infrastructure. That infrastructure is about to be supercharged with the building of a new Justice Quarter for London, right here in the Square Mile.
At its heart will be the new City of London Law Courts at Fleet Street, an innovative new 18-courtroom facility, which will sit alongside a new headquarters for City of London Police at Salisbury Square. The City of London Law Courts will be the flagship for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service and the Ministry of Justice, containing Crown, Magistrates, County and Civil Courts all in a single building. This new court replaces the Mayor’s and City of London Court and the City of London Magistrates’ Court, and will also contain eight Crown courtrooms. It will provide significantly improved facilities and will be equipped to deliver justice in the modern age, with a focus on economic crime, cyber-crime and fraud.
Flanked to the north east by the Old Bailey, and the Royal Courts of Justice to the west, this cutting-edge facility will create a law corridor across the heart of London – reflecting the City of London’s role as a global centre of justice and legal services. It will also align with the HMCTS Reform Programme, launched in 2016 to bring modern ways of working to the justice system, using technology to prioritise the safety and integrity of the legal process.
This project will reinforce the Square Mile’s reputation as a place to do business by ensuring we are able to adapt to the changing demands placed on the justice system. Maintaining our position as a world-leading judicial centre is essential as we drive our economic recovery forward and build back better from the pandemic.
The Justice Quarter will give us the capacity for dealing with specialist disputes in areas such as economic crime, fraud and cyber-crime, which have of course become major international challenges. It will also increase the capacity for disputes from around the world to be settled in London, enhancing the City’s already formidable global offer as a centre for dispute resolution
The UK’s legal services sector is second in size only to the US. 200 law firms from overseas have offices here in the UK, including all of the world’s top 50 law firms. And English common law remains by far the most popular choice worldwide for cross-border contracts, being used in 40% of all global corporate arbitrations.
With this new Justice Quarter for London, the traditions of justice which underpin the City will be even stronger, and London’s future as a centre for international dispute resolution will be even brighter.