29 December 2023
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The year AGain: some perspectives on the disputes scene in 2023 in England & Wales

To The Point
(10 min read)

In this article, we review the 2023 disputes landscape in England & Wales with a particular focus on six key themes: the increasing expectation on parties to mediate or try other forms of ADR; reform of the Arbitration Act and key arbitration cases; litigation funding and the impact of the Supreme Court's PACCAR judgment; developments in the ESG disputes landscape; the rise and role of AI; and key intellectual property case developments. There have been many other cases to note and procedural developments this year, but this article gives readers a high-level summary of the main developments within these particular themes.


It's trite but it's true: 2023 was a busy year.

Data from the courts [1] confirms it with the number of issued claims (across all courts) on the up, driven at least in part by more money claims. In the Chancery Division specifically, claims have risen from 5,296 issued in 2019, to more than 14,000 in 2023 [2] (of which more than 11,000 were in the Company and Insolvency List).  Of all those claims, however, more were undefended (there were at least 16% fewer defended claims than before COVID) and there were more default judgments than in previous years.  But the courts remained sufficiently busy that, across all courts, it took an average of more than 70 weeks for claims on the multi or fast track to reach trial [3]; at least 17 weeks longer than in 2019.

The subject matter of the increased court action reflected a year of high inflation, paired with the aftermath of Brexit and the Ukraine war; with plenty of construction disputes and HMRC claims.  The year also saw a steady increase in claims involving parties in the technology, media and telecoms sector – rising from 814 claims in 2020, to more than 1,300 in 2023.  There were also some landmark IP, environmental and arbitration-related cases (with many more to watch).  And with those growing litigation numbers, it is perhaps no surprise that 2023 was also the year when focus turned more so than ever to ADR – and in particular, mediation – and the use and potential use of AI.

In this article, we set out some of the key developments in these and other areas this year.

Third party litigation funding
Environmental litigation
AI litigation
IP litigation


If the premise was that 2023 was a busy year, then the conclusion must be that 2024 will be busier.  Much of the litigation we've seen this year feels to be the starting point of a journey, and it will be exciting to see what further developments there are next year in terms of the use of ADR, ESG claims and – of course – AI (as well as crypto) disputes.  We also look forward to seeing the other side of that coin, and how the deployment of AI in disputes management, prediction and the courts themselves, together with increased take-up of ADR processes, might impact on dispute resolution generally and relieve the pressure on the courts.  2024 is also expected to be a year in which arbitration reform comes to fruition and reform of the laws around litigation funding gains momentum.


[1] - Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly: April-June and July – September 2023 and Solomonic data

[2] - Solomonic data

[3] - Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly: April-June and June-September 2023

[4] - Solomonic data

[5] Deutsche Bank v RusChem, Commerzbank v RusChem, Unicredit v RusChem. See also RenSec v Chlodwig & Ors.

To the Point 

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