The Justice Initiative Frankfurt am Main 2017

Written by Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Burkhard Hess, Executive Director Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law

Against the backdrop of Brexit, an initiative has been launched to strengthen Frankfurt as a hot spot for commercial litigation in the European Judicial Area. On March 30, 2017, the Minister of Justice of the Federal State Hessen, Ms Kühne-Hörmann, organized a conference at which the Justice Initiative was presented. More  than 120 stakeholders (lawyers, judges, businesses) attended the conference. The original paper was elaborated by Professors Burkhard Hess (Luxembourg), Thomas Pfeiffer (Heidelberg), Christian Duve (Heidelberg) and Roman Poseck (President of the Frankfurt Court of Appeal). Here, we are pleased to provide an English translation of the position paper with some additional information on German procedural law for an international audience. The proposal has, as a matter of principle, been endorsed by the Minister of Justice. Its proposals are now being discussed and shall be implemented in the next months to come. The paper reads as follows: (more…)

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.



Update of the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention Repository

In preparation of the Conference on the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention on 13/14 September 2021, planned to be taking place on campus of the University of Bonn, Germany, we are offering here a Repository of contributions to the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention. Please email us if you miss something in it, we will update immediately…

We all benefited from your contributions at the Video Pre-Conference Roundtable on 29 October 2020. Our sincere thanks go to all the speakers and participants who pushed further the frontiers of our knowledge and understanding.

Update of 4 November 2020: New entries are printed bold.

Please also check the “official” Bibliograghy of the HCCH for the instrument.

  1. Explanatory Reports
Garcimartín Alférez, Francisco;
Saumier, Geneviève
„Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters: Explanatory Report“, as approved by the HCCH on 22 September 2020 (available here)
Garcimartín Alférez, Francisco;
Saumier, Geneviève
“Judgments Convention: Revised Draft Explanatory Report”, HCCH Prel.-Doc. No. 1 of December 2018 (available here)
Nygh, Peter;
Pocar, Fausto
“Report of the Special Commission”, HCCH Prel.-Doc. No. 11 of August 2000 (available here), pp 19-128


  1. Bibliography

First EAPIL (Virtual) Seminar on 11 December 2020: Brexit and Private International Law – What now?

On 11 December 2020, from 11 am to 1 pm (MET), the European Association of Private International Law will host the first EAPIL (Virtual) Seminar. Devoted to the impact of Brexit on Private International Law speakers from the United Kingdom and the European Continent will analyze the legal framework that will apply to cross-border cases in the short-term, i.e. as of 1 January 2021 when the transition period provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement has expired. In addition, they will discuss what the future relationship between the EU and the UK could and should look like. Special emphasis will be placed on the question of whether the EU and the UK should strive to adopt a new – bespoke – bilateral agreement (or whether it should simply join existing international conventions).

The speakers of the first session, on civil and commercial matters, will be:

  • Alexander Layton (Twenty Essex Street Chambers, London)
  • Eva Lein (University of Lausanne)
  • Michiel Poesen (KU Leuven)

The second session, on family matters, will feature presentations by:

  • Sir Andrew Moylan (Court of Appeal of England and Wales)
  • Pietro Franzina (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan)
  • Anatol Dutta (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich).

The Seminar will take place via Zoom. Information about how to register will be announced in due course.

If you have questions concerning the first EAPIL Seminar or the EAPIL Seminar Series as such please get in touch with the Secretary General of EAPIL, Giesela Rühl, at

The Contractual Function of a Choice of Court Agreement in Nigerian Jurisprudence

Many international commercial parties usually provide for a choice of court agreement as a term of their contract. This is done to enhance predictability, certainty and reduction of costs in the event a dispute arises between the parties. Since a choice of court agreement is a term of the contract, does the principle of contract law apply to determine a choice of court agreement? Though this is a matter of controversy in Nigerian law,[1] some recent appellate courts (Court of Appeal and Supreme Court) have  given a foreign choice of court agreement a contractual function.[2]

Kashamu v UBN Plc[3] is a most recent Court of Appeal decision that analyses a foreign choice of court agreement exclusively from the principles of contract law. In this case, The Banque International Du Benin (“BIDB”), a limited financial institution in Benin Republic, granted medium term loan facilities, in different sums, to the Societe d’ Egrenage Industrial De Cotonu du Benin (“SEIC-B”), a private limited company registered in Benin Republic, for construction of its Cotton Ginning factory. The facilities were secured by, inter alia, SEIC-B’s goodwill, factory and land. In addition, the defendant/appellant, the alter ego of SEIC-B, personally guaranteed the facilities in a personal guarantee agreement. The loan agreement between BIDB and SEICB provided that the law and courts of Benin Republic should determine their dispute. However, the guarantee agreement between BIDB and the defendant/appellant did not explicitly provide for a choice of court agreement.