Bishop & Sewell

Oliver Shah writing in the Sunday Times argues that Britain is ideal for ‘influence-purchasing’ as it sits between the US and China and because of the economy’s ‘Wimbledonisation’, where it provides the regulation and services and others bring the capital, writes David Little, a partner in our Corporate and Commercial Law team.

Specifically Shah argues that the Abu Dhabi-backed bid for the Telegraph Media Group now causing a row is a pivotal moment for British press freedom. He says while the current landscape is not perfect – the Evening Standard and Independent are controlled by the son of a former KGB agent – the Telegraph situation is different as it would be an outright takeover of several influential publications by a state inherently opposed to free expression. Shah suggests that even if the UAE remained a passive investor in the Telegraph and Spectator its very presence would soften coverage of controversial Gulf issues at the margin.

I was particularly interested in his use of the phrase ‘Wimbledonisation’ which neatly sums up a lot that is happening in the UK at moment, and I may use it myself in the future. The UK is home to many world leading institutions. Sporting analogies apart, we also have some very attractive business assets – many of which are being snapped up by foreign investors.

We also have a legal services and financial services sector which is the envy of many in the world. As many of my colleagues have written in this blog before, London is the jurisdiction of choice for many when it comes to settling international commercial law cases or family law matters.

The contribution of the rule of law to the British economy and the role which the courts, the legal profession and businesspeople play in upholding the rule of law in changing circumstances has often been debated.

The significance of the role of London in the provision of international legal services is well known. The pre-eminence of English law is partly the result of our economic history and the way in which the common law has developed. The continued collaboration between the judiciary, the legal professions, the business community, the Government, and Parliament in adapting our law to social and economic changes continue to play a vital role in preserving this country’s reputation as a rule of law nation and as a place where international business can be transacted and where legal disputes can be resolved. London’s position as a leading centre of international legal services is in part a product of history.

These attributes have been developed in large measure by a judiciary who have been supportive of commerce and have sought to develop legal rules that reflect the changing realities of commercial practice. Today, we are a rule of law society; we have world-leading commercial courts with specialist expertise, arbitral tribunals with similar expertise, and a critical mass of expert commercial lawyers in London. These qualities have made English law popular internationally as the governing law for commercial transactions, and this jurisdiction as a place for resolving disputes in our courts and arbitral tribunals.

Fine sentiments. You can read the original version of Lord Hodge, Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court’s speech ‘The Rule of Law, the Courts and the British Economy’, here.

He might have summarised his whole thesis up in one word, ‘Wimbledonisation.’

I commend it to you. Let’s all start using it.


David Little is a Partner at Bishop & Sewell in our expert Corporate & Commercial team. If you would like to contact him, please quote Ref CB435 on either on either 07968 027343 / 020 7631 4141 or email

The above is accurate as at 28 November 2023. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 28th Nov 2023

David Little

David Little's Blog

Learn more

Mark Chick's Blog<

Mark Chick's Blog

Leasehold information

Learn more

Technical updates

View by