UK.gov: New London courthouse will focus on crimes of a cyber nature

Not just another generic court building. Oh no

The City of London Magistrates' Court. Pic: Chris Dorney/Shutterstock
The City of London Magistrates' Court will move out of its iconic building under the new plans

London is to get a new court building, billed as a legal centre for tackling cyber and online economic crimes.

The courthouse, to be built on the site of Fleetbank House, just off the capital's Fleet Street, will have 18 courtrooms and house the Business and Property Court list of the High Court's Chancery Division.

In addition, the building will house the Central London County Court, which currently sits in the Royal Courts of Justice up the road from Fleet Street, and criminal cases from the City of London Magistrates' Court, which is built on a prime slice of real estate slap bang on top of Bank underground station.

A new station for the City of London Police, the Square Mile's tiny force which mainly focuses on economic crimes, will also form part of the new building.

"This state-of-the-art court is a further message to the world that Britain both prizes business and stands ready to deal with the changing nature of 21st century crime," said Justice Secretary David Gauke in a canned quote.

Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman of the Corporation of London, chipped in to add: "I'm particularly pleased that this court will have a focus on the legal issues of the future, such as fraud, economic crime, and cyber-crime."

Most high-profile British cybercrime cases are started in Westminster Magistrates' Court, a mile or two north of the City, where the Chief Magistrate of England and Wales dispenses justice. Minor cybercrime cases sometimes find their way to the City of London Magistrates' Court (such as the ex-Harrods IT worker fined for trying to have a company laptop wiped before returning it) or get bumped up to Southwark Crown Court, as with the case of the serving judge accused of a computer misuse crime for viewing a case file.

The City's own capacity for hearing cybercrime cases is very small, and (in anything other than PR terms) is largely meaningless, London being blessed with plenty of civil and criminal courthouses.

Capital geeks will know that the Royal Courts of Justice, the beautiful neo-Gothic court building on the Strand, opposite St Clement Danes Church, sits immediately outside the boundaries of the City of London, the admin district known as the Square Mile. Nonetheless, as the home of half the High Court, many corporate legal battles involving cyber matters are heard there. The Chancery Division, the other half of the High Court, is based inside the City in the Rolls Building, just around the corner from the RCJ.

The current Fleetbank House is an utterly uninspiring Brutalist box, erected before the post-war architectural vandalism movement had discovered angles other than 90o. Appropriately, the building currently houses a clutch of minor government agencies, including the London tentacle of snatch-your-pint mob Public Health England. ®




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