Starting on March 1, 2018, parties to cases in two Paris courts will be entitled to plead in English and submit documents in English before French judges, with the potential for other languages to be used—and the potential to attract still more international litigants. Decisions will be drafted in French with a translation.

On February 7, 2018, two procedural protocols recorded the creation of international chambers within the Paris commercial court and the Paris court of appeal, to increase the city’s judicial attractiveness as it adapts to the development and internationalization of business life. The implementation of these international chambers means that the two courts will now hear pleadings in English[1] and accept exhibits in English.

Paris is the first city to implement international chambers within these courts, ahead of Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Dublin, which, for the time being, have only announced their international chambers.

In practice, these chambers will have jurisdiction to hear disputes relating to international trade contracts in the following domains: commercial contracts, termination of business relationships, transport and unfair competition, actions for damages for anticompetitive practices, transactions in financial instruments, market framework agreements on financial contracts, instruments, and products.

The jurisdiction of such chambers may also result from a specific contractual provision.

Benefits of using these international chambers will include the following:

  • Ten Anglophone judges will serve on the commercial court and three Anglophone judges will serve on the court of appeal. These judges will have received training on the main applicable laws.
  • Parties may plead (for the attorneys) and make comments (for the parties, witnesses, and technicians) in English.
  • Exhibits submitted into evidence may also be in the English language only, with no translation necessary.
  • Decisions will be drafted in French and will include an English translation.

The law governing the merits of the dispute will still be French law or the applicable foreign law. The procedural documents will still be drafted in French, with the option of a translation into the parties’ language.

This added flexibility will allow simplifying procedures before these courts, making them more accessible to foreign parties and reducing the cost thereof, since translation into French will no longer be required.

This evolution is also in line with Paris’s positioning with regard to international arbitration, insofar as the International Chamber of Commerce, the leading arbitration institution, has its seat there and the only courtrooms of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes outside of Washington, DC are located in Paris.