Technology and Construction Court
The Technology and Construction Court (commonly abbreviated in practice to the TCC) is a sub-division of the Queen's Bench Division, part of the High Court of Justice, which together with the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal, is one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. The Civil Procedure Rules, which regulate procedure civil procedure in the High Court, allocate non-exhaustive categories of work to the court, principally, as the name suggests, disputes in the areas of construction and technology.
However, since its formation in its current guise in October 1998, the court's jurisdiction has expanded such that many civil claims which are factually or technically complex are now heard in the TCC, beyond its traditional case load. For example, large-scale group personal injury claims are heard by the court, as are disputes arising out of the EU's complicated public procurement regime.
The court's reputation has steadily grown over the years, such that it is now regarded as a highly capable and knowledgeable court. Its case load has dramatically increased since 1998, both in the form of traditional litigation and through assisted methods of alternative dispute resolution. In 2011, the court moved its central location from its aged buildings in Fetter Lane to the newly constructed £200m Rolls Building.
The court was known until 9 October 1998 as the Official Referees' Court, a name which reflected its old status as a tribunal with no jurisdiction per se, but which could report to judges on its findings. The new court, which was founded under the leadership of Mr Justice Dyson (now the Master of the Rolls), aimed to rid the perception this created that the court was not equal to others in the Queen's Bench Division. When opening the new court, Dyson said the new changes were "of real significance", and included technological advancements to aid the court's running, such as a centralised listing system.
With the introduction of the new Civil Procedure Rules on 26 April 1999 following Lord Woolf's report, the TCC's caseload dropped slightly as a result of the new Rules' focus on alternative dispute resolution. These meant that less claims were issued - previously, claims had simply been issued as a matter of course as part of the negotiation process.
The proliferation of adjudication following its introduction in the Construction Act 1996 also led to fewer disputes going before the court, but did give the court a new role in enforcing adjudication decisions. The Construction Act gives parties to a "construction contract" a right to refer matters to adjudicators, with the aim of aiding cash flow in the construction sector by allowing disputes to be settled without the need for lengthy and costly court proceedings. Changes to the Construction Act 1996 brought in by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 are likely to see even more disputes referred to adjudication before reaching the TCC.
The Arbitration Act 1996 had a similar effect as adjudication. Such was the effect on the number of cases being brought before the TCC, extra capacity meant that TCC judges could act as judge-arbitrators, utilising their experience and knowledge while contributing to the CPR's goals in reducing litigation costs.
The TCC deals primarily with litigation of disputes arising in the field of technology and construction. It includes building, engineering and technology disputes, professional negligence claims and IT disputes as well as enforcement of adjudication decisions and challenges to arbitrators’ decisions. The TCC also regularly deals with allegations of lawyers’ negligence arising in connection with planning, property, construction and other technical disputes.
The work of the TCC often involves both complex legal argument and heavyweight technical issues, and as a result TCC judges try some of the most arduous and complex that come before the civil courts. The sums at issue can be large, often involving millions of pounds, although there is in theory at least no minimum sum to be claimed (as, under the CPR, the court has wide powers to assert jurisdiction over clams it feels are appropriate). Cases can last several days and involved mountains of paperwork and expert evidence.
TCC cases are managed and heard by specialist judges in London and at centres throughout England and Wales. The cases are allocated either to High Court Judges, Senior Circuit Judges, Circuit Judges or Recorders both in London and at regional centres outside London. The court is currently led by Mr Justice Akenhead and has five full-time High Court judges.
The main location of the court is in St Dunstan's House near the Royal Court of Justice in London. In April 2011, it is scheduled to move its central location from its aged buildings in Fetter Lane to the new £200m Rolls Building. The new building, which will be shared with other divisional courts of the Queen's Bench and Chancery Divisions, will provide 31 courtrooms, 11 hearing rooms and 44 consultation rooms, as well as more daylight, enhanced ventilation and state-of-the-art IT facilities.
As well as its London location, where most cases (including those with an international element) are heard after being started or transferred there, claims can be issued and heard at any of the following regional court centres:
- Birmingham (full-time TCC judge available)
- Liverpool (full-time TCC judge available)
- Manchester (full-time TCC judge available)
TCC authorised judges are also available at Leicester, Sheffield and Southampton, although claims cannot be issued there.
- "The Changing Face of Dispute Resolution". einsidetrack. December 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "Official Referee's Court is now TCC". The Times. 13 October 1998. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "Acceptance of adjudication helps big cut in construction’s litigation workload". International Construction Review. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "Arbitration is learning from adjudication". Atkinson Law. 14 August 2004. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "Adjudication: caught in the Act?". The In-House Lawyer. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "The Technology and Construction Court Guide" (PDF). Second Edition, Second Revision. October 2010.
- Linklaters Business Services v. Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and ors (Technology and Construction Court 3 November 2010). Text
- "The Technology and Construction Court". Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- See also Davis, Michael E., The Technology and Construction Court, Oxford University Press, 2006.