The Financial List has been operating since October 2015
and is now becoming well-established. In Property Alliance
Group Limited v Royal Bank of Scotland Plc  EWHC
207 (Ch), the Court considered whether to order the
transfer of existing proceedings into the Financial List.
The application for a transfer was brought by The Royal
Bank of Scotland Limited (RBS) and opposed by
Property Alliance Group Limited (PAG). PAG has
brought various claims against RBS in these proceedings.
The key allegations relate to the mis-selling of interest
rate swaps and the fixing of LIBOR rates.
What disputes are eligible for the Financial List?
Claims suitable for the Financial List are:
- claims worth £50 million or more and relating to
loans, project finance, banking transactions,
derivatives and complex financial products, financial
benchmarks, capital or currency controls, bank
guarantees, bonds, debt securities, private equity
deals, hedge fund disputes, sovereign debt, or clearing
or settlement, or
- claims which require particular expertise in the
financial markets or raise issues of general
importance to the financial markets. Financial
markets include the fixed income markets, the equity
markets, the derivatives markets, the loan markets,
the foreign currency markets and the commodities
Read our earlier article which contains
more information on the Financial List here.
PAG accepted that its claims fell within the definition of a
Financial List claim. However, it argued that this did not
mean the case must be transferred, especially in
circumstances where there was already a judge docketed
to the case who had delivered a number of judgments
(mostly in relation to disclosure and privilege). In
addition, the hearing was only a few months away.
Ten significant factors
The judge listed the following factors as being relevant to
deciding a contested application for a transfer to the
- The extent to which the case concerned matters of
market significance, rather than matters relevant only
to the specific case and parties.
- The relative importance of the issues of market
- Whether the case had already been assigned to a
- Whether, if the case were to be transferred to the
Financial List, the judge would have to be changed.
- How long proceedings had been underway.
- Whether the assigned judge had already conducted
hearings and delivered judgments in the proceedings.
- Whether the judge’s familiarity with the case would
enable their pre-reading to be more efficient than if a
new judge were to be appointed.
- Proximity of the trial date.
- Whether the timetable would be disrupted by a
transfer to the Financial List.
- Whether assigning a Financial List judge would disrupt
other proceedings underway in other lists, for
example because that judge would no longer be able
to conduct those proceedings.
He concluded that this was an appropriate case to be
transferred, even though it would involve a change of
judge. The fact that some of the allegations were relevant
to other participants in the market, the judgment would
impact on cases currently underway and the case might
be viewed as a lead case in relation to LIBOR allegations
were all relevant issues.
It should be fairly unusual for an application to transfer a
claim into the Financial List to be opposed. The financial
markets expertise of the judges of the Financial List will
generally appeal to both sides in a dispute. Where there is
opposition (for example because there are tactical
considerations at play), this case provides useful guidance
on how the Court will reach a decision. That said, not
every case which meets the criteria of the Financial List
needs to be transferred or started there. A high value but
straightforward loan dispute, for example, probably does
not require particular financial market expertise.
Applications to transfer to the Financial List should be
made as early as is feasible. The Courts will not want to
jeopardise a fixed trial date and will also want the same
judge to conduct both the pre-trial review and the trial
itself. If an application is being made at a later stage,
assurances that the trial date will still be met are likely to
give comfort to the judge considering the case.