The metropolis of London business enterprise has introduced plans for a new centralised court docket complex with a focus on fraud and cyber crime, in an effort to uphold London’s recognition as an global felony centre publish-Brexit.
Ministers say the courtroom will decorate Britain’s recognition as a rustic where banking and finance is underpinned by way of the guideline of regulation, and help the government tackle the developing risk of laptop crime.
The new 18-courtroom complex is to be located on or around Fleet Street. As well as economic and cyber crime cases, it would also hear other criminal and civil disputes, taking over the work of a clutch of other courts in the City, such as the City of the London Magistrates’ Court and the Mayor’s and City of London Court, which mostly hears tenancy disputes.
The plans are the latest sign that the UK is moving to modernise and expand capacity in order to guard its pre-eminence as an international legal centre. Other countries are attempting to woo businesses seeking legal redress by establishing new courts, some based on English law and hearing cases in English.
The focus on economic crime also reflects the increase in recent years in prosecutions by the Serious Fraud Office as well as the introduction of legislation such as the Criminal Finances Act, which came into force on September 30.
The act creates a new offence of the facilitation of tax evasion and gives Britain’s economic crime fighting agencies new powers to tackle the sources of hidden wealth.
London has become notorious as a haven for money-laundering, with inquiries from overseas authorities investigating the trail of dirty cash flowing to the UK rising to a record level.
The number of cyber attacks on businesses in the UK has also increased dramatically. Last November — and shortly after Tesco Bank was hit by a cyber bank robbery affecting tens of thousands of customer — Amber Rudd, the home secretary, labelled economic crime a national security threat.
The new “state-of-the-art, multi-purpose replacement” complex will not include the Central Criminal Court, commonly known as the Old Bailey. A feasibility study to work out costs and funding sources is expected to complete in early 2018.
No budget has yet been set for the new complex, but reducing the number of expensive court sites in London will have been a factor in the proposal. The nearby Rolls Building, which has 31 courtrooms and opened in 2011, cost £300m.
Critics of the Rolls Building said the money would have been better spent on reversing cuts to legal aid, where there has been a big rise in people having to represent themselves in court
The City of London Corporation said: “The court’s close proximity to some of the world’s leading technology, financial and professional services firms in the Square Mile will enable the judiciary to be at the forefront of tackling criminal activity and resolving disputes. It would also benefit from its position near the Rolls Building, the Royal Courts of Justice, Old Bailey and Inns of Court.”
Dominic Raab, justice minister, said the court would reinforce the City’s “world-leading reputation as the number one place to do business and resolve disputes” and called it “a terrific advert for post-Brexit Britain”.
Britain’s judges have moved to counter the perception that by leaving the EU Britain will lose ground to other jurisdictions. In July, Lord Neuberger, the former president of the Supreme Court, said Brexit “does not alter the fact that lawyers and judges in the UK are as internationally minded and expert as they ever have been”.
Cyber crime | Most common UK online offences
These are the ten most common cyber-crimes in the UK, with number of cases reported in the year to June 2016
1. Bank account fraud – 2,356,000
Criminals trick their way to get account details. For example: “Phishing” emails contain links or attachments that either take you to a website that looks like your bank’s, or install malware on your system. A 2015 report by Verizon into data breach investigations has shown that 23pc of people open phishing emails.
2. Non-investment fraud – 1,028,000
AKA Ponzi schemes. Examples include penny stocks, pension liberation, and investment in commodities, such as wine or art, that later prove worthless
3. Computer virus – 1,340,000
Unauthorised software damages or takes control of your machine. For example: “Ransomware” encrypts your files and pictures then demands a payment to restore your access to it
4. Hacking – 681,000
Criminals exploit security weaknesses to illegally access other machines or networks. They steal sensitive data or subvert machines for their own purposes, such as sending spam or launching other cyber attacks
5. Advance fee fraud – 117,000
The victim is promised access to a great deal of money in return for a smaller upfront payment. For example, the classic “Nigerian Prince” email scam
6. Other fraud – 116,000
One example is “solicitor scams”, where a solicitor’s website is hacked, then clients asked to divert large payments into the criminals’ bank accounts.
7. Harassment and stalking – 18,826
Threats, abuse and online bullying – what’s commonly been termed “trolling” on social media
8. Obscene publications – 6,292
Pornography that meets the definition of the Obscene Publications Act, thus generally involving some form of physical abuse
9. Child sexual offences – 4,184
Assault, grooming, indecent communication, coercing a child to witness a sex act. These crimes may be being under-reported
10. Blackmail – 2,028