Setting an international course, cross border economic disputes can now be pleaded in the Hamburg Regional Court in English. Special civil and commercial chambers at the court in Hamburg will offer this service beginning May 2018. The court in Frankfurt am Main has started this practice in January 2018.
However, this only applies for oral court hearings. Submissions and judgements must continue to be written in German, as it is required by law. Nonetheless, this is a first step in the right direction and if proven, will certainly be extended to pleadings and judgements. An exception is now possible if all parties speak a different language. Oral proceedings in English language at the regional courts has been in practice. Now this has become a possibility, for all civil proceedings with international reference, when both parties agree.
In Hamburg, the eliminated language barrier offers advantages for cross-border companies, especially in the maritime and shipping sector. The language is no longer a reason for foreigners to insist on the jurisdiction of Anglo-Saxon courts or private arbitration.
According to the Hamburg Senator of Justice Till Steffen, this also strengthens the attractiveness of Hamburg as a legal and business location. “Politically, the goal is to fully recognize English as a court language in Germany, so that pleadings and judgments may be made in English,” said the Senator. He also tries to encourage this on the federal level in Germany.
Regarding the upcoming Brexit, there is an opportunity to establish Hamburg and Frankfurt as international places of jurisdiction. After the Brexit, it might become more difficult to enforce English judgements within the European Union. The aim is to bring international proceedings, which were previously conducted in the UK, to Germany.
|Michael Wuebbeke, LL.M. (Amsterdam)
Attorney at LawENDEMANN.SCHMIDT