Paris, the Jurisdiction of Choice?

On January 17th, the President of the Paris Commercial Court (Tribunal de commerce) inaugurated a new international division.

The new division, which is in fact the 3rd division of the court (3ème Chambre), is to be staffed with nine judges who speak foreign languages, and will therefore be able to assess evidence written in a foreign language. For now, the languages will be English, German and Spanish, as one juge speaking Spanish and two speaking German are currently on the court.

In an interview to the Fondation de droit continental (Civil law initiative), the President of the Court explained that the point was to make French justice more competitive and attract international cases. It also made clear that France was following Germany’s lead, where several international divisions were established in 2009 in Hamburg and Cologne.

French Commercial Courts

It should be pointed out to readers unfamiliar with the French legal system that French commercial courts are not staffed with professional judges, but with members of the business community working part-time at the court (and for free). In Paris, however, many of these judges work in the legal department of their company, and are thus fine lawyers.

Also, French commercial courts (and French civil courts generally) virtually never hear witnesses, so the issue of the language in which they may address the court does not arise.

Some issues

So, the new international division will be able to read documents in several foreign languages. However, nothing suggests that parties or lawyers will be able either to speak, or to write pleadings, in any other language than French. Lawyers arguing these cases will still need to file their pleadings in French, and thus to translate them in English beforehand for their clients. Furthermore, the interview of the Court’s President seems to suggest that using a foreign language will not be a right for the parties. Quite to the contrary, it seems that it will not be possible if one of the parties disagrees, and demands documents be translated in French.

Will that be enough to attract additional commercial cases to Paris?

I wonder whether introducing class actions in French civil procedure would have been more efficient in this respect.

For the full interview of the Court’s President, see after the jump.



Brexit and the UK joining two HCCH Conventions – A convoluted and unorthodox process that has finally come to an end

As announced in a previous post, the UK has (again) joined the 2005 Choice of Court Convention and the 2007 Child Support Convention. On 2 October 2020, the Depositary has officially notified of the new UK instrument of accession to the Choice of Court Convention and of the new UK instrument of ratification of the Child Support Convention, including the new UK declarations and reservations. And yes both Conventions have been extended to Gibraltar from the outset.

As you may remember, the previous UK instruments of accession to and ratification of the above-mentioned Conventions were withdrawn because the United Kingdom and the European Union signed, ratified and approved a Withdrawal Agreement. Such an agreement entered into force on 1 February 2020, and included a transition period that started on the date the Withdrawal Agreement entered into force and which will end on 31 December 2020. In accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, during the transition period, European Union law, including the HCCH Conventions, will continue to be applicable to and in the United Kingdom.

Virtual Workshop on October 6: Anatol Dutta on Family Law and Multicultural Society

On Tuesday, October 6, the Hamburg Max Planck Institute will host its fourth monthly virtual workshop in private international law at 11:00-12:30. Anatol Dutta (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich) will speak, in German, about family law and multicultural society, followed by open discussion. All are welcome. More information and sign-up here.

This is the fourth such lecture in the series, after those by Mathias Lehmann in June, Eva-Maria Kieninger in July, and Giesela Rühl in September. The designated November speaker is Susanne Gössl (Kiel), for December it will be Marc-Philippe Weller (Heidelberg). So far, all presentations have been in German, but in the future we plan to alternate between German and English, in order to enable more interested scholars to participate.

If you want to be invited to these events in the future, please write to

Belgium ratifies the 2000 Hague Adults Convention

On 30 September Belgium ratified the Hague Convention of 13 January 2000 on the International Protection of Adults. This means that the Convention will enter into force for Belgium on 1 January 2021. The Convention will then have 13 Contracting States. All of them are in Europe (EU or neigbouring States): Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Monaco, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (only Scotland). The Convention has additionally been signed by a number of other States (all EU): Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland.

The European Parliament has attempted to have the Commission adopt EU legislation on this topic (see its resolutions of 2008 and of 2017). The European Law Institute has conducted a study on which we reported earlier (here). Although the Commission has not initiated legislation, they are following up the signing and ratifying of the Convention by Member States. They seem to have success.