A current legislative bill initiated by the ministries of justice of Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia in cooperation with the German Judges Association (Deutscher Richterbund) and the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltsverein) proposes to set up specialised chambers at selected regional courts for commercial cross-border disputes (to be called "chambers for international commerce"). They would conduct the entire proceedings (including submissions, the hearing, protocols, and the judgment) in English. The respective appellate courts would likewise establish specialised chambers to conduct the appeal proceedings in English. A final appeal to the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) would, however, still be conducted in German.
In light of the fact that English is the lingua franca of international commercial transactions, the primary aim of the initiative is to strengthen Germany as a place of jurisdiction for cross-border litigation and regain ground that has been lost to international commercial arbitration. Among legal practitioners, the initiative is viewed controversially. Its proponents are, however, confident that there are enough judges and attorneys qualified both in Germany and in common law systems who would be able to conduct legal proceedings in English with a sufficient degree of precision. If the bill is passed by parliament in early spring, proceedings in English before German courts may well serve as a further selling point for the German court system with its highly qualified judges, fast proceedings and low litigation costs.