Presiding judge: His Honour Judge Christopher McGonigal
There seems to be some conflict of opinion when it comes to the popularity of the Leeds Mercantile Court. Paul Worth, solicitor in the commercial litigation department of Addleshaw Booth & Co in Leeds, says that all the big six firms in Leeds use it regularly.
Worth says that Addleshaw Booth & Co will come to the Leeds and Newcastle Mercantile Court for injunctive relief "99 times out of 100". But Ian Brown, partner in the litigation department of Gosschalks in Hull, says: "The court itself is under used, people are reluctant to use it and I don't know why. Everything's there in terms of judiciary, McGonigal is highly thought of and has the advantage that he's on the case from day one."
Backed up by Judge Behrens and Judge Bush, Judge McGonigal has built up a solid reputation since he was appointed at the new court in 1997. Worth says that Judge McGonigal is "particularly au fait " with commercial fraud cases. In fact, Judge McGonigal was previously a senior litigation partner at Coward Chance Solicitors (which went on to merge with Clifford Turner to form what is now Clifford Chance), where he obtained a lot of experience in the field. "We've had sensible judgments from him throughout," Worth says.
Judge McGonigal likes to pack in short hearings on a Friday and work his way through the whole list, which is also popular with Leeds and Newcastle's local lawyers. However, it is more difficult to get early return dates for longer hearings, which, as Worth points out, is "a reflection on how successful the court is – that's the price you pay for getting the judge that you want". Encouraging his fellow brethren to make more use of the court, Brown says: "It is an opportunity to prove that you do not need to traipse down to London in order to get a decent case heard by a decent judge."