The Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD) has invited City lawyers, key judges and the Corporation of London to a secret meeting at the end of March, where it will reveal funding proposals for a new Commercial Court
Sources close to the talks estimate that the new court will cost £59m to build, but no public money has been set aside for the project; the LCD is expected to reveal a large funding gap that it hopes can be filled with private money.
The LCD announced that it wanted a new Commercial Court in 2001; plans were drawn up, but the project was shelved due to a lack of public funds. The LCD wants a new Commercial Court building to replace three underequipped sites in London, St Dunstan's House, two Royal Courts of Justice courts and First Avenue House, where the Commercial, Admiralty and Technology and Construction Courts currently sit. The LCD and a group of key judges are understood to be currently revamping plans made in 2001 for a new court building.
A source who will be attending the meeting told The Lawyer that the LCD does not want any of the plans to be made public.
An LCD spokesperson said: "We're still working through the [Government] spending review of 2002 to determine departmental priorities.
"Our intention remains to modernise the Commercial Court through the provision of enhanced information technology and improved accommodation facilities."