German courts holding commercial cases in English

The subject of German judges holding cases in English has raised its ugly head again and is not likely to go away. I’ve mentioned it several times, from 2010 on.

Courts in Paris and Amsterdam as well as Frankfurt would like to take over the international commercial cases so often held in London. Apparently after Brexit UK decisions won’t be automatically effective in the EU and this will slow things down.

Frankfurt am Main Landgericht (Regional Court) has announced this week that from January it will have an English-speaking commercial chamber. From Legal Tribune Online (in German!):

Gerichtsstandort Frankfurt Eng­lisch­spra­chige Kammer für Han­dels­sa­chen ab 2018

Das Landgericht (LG) Frankfurt am Main will ab Januar 2018 eine englischsprachige Kammer für Handelssachen einrichten. Wie das LG am Donnerstag mitteilte, soll Frankfurt damit als Gerichtsstandort gestärkt werden. “Unternehmen sollen die Möglichkeit erhalten, nach ihrer Wahl die Verhandlung auf Englisch durchzuführen”, sagte der Gerichtspräsident Wilhelm Wolf.

I’m not going to analyse this at length, but it is fun reading some of the comments on articles quoted here.

Here is something in English from Bloomberg:

Paris, Frankfurt Try to Grab Lucrative Legal Action From London

“London is stepping into the shadows,” says Roman Poseck, president of the appeals court in Frankfurt, where officials plan to have an English-language panel in place by January. “Frankfurt wants a piece of the pie.”

(Is this what’s known as a mixed metaphor?)

This is all early November 2017 stuff. It was being discussed in March though.

Here is my earlier report on a colleague’s description of the first court hearing in English:

First German court hearing in English

I remember coming to the conclusion that the judges understood each other despite using English, not because of it.

The problem for me, of course, is the language, and above all the gulf between what some judges think is fluent English and what some translators and interpreters think. Especially when it comes to talking about one’s own or a different legal system in a foreign language.

4 thoughts on “German courts holding commercial cases in English

  1. ‘London is stepping (slipping) into the shadows…’ whilst the combined Chancery, Admiralty, Business and Property Courts have been fighting back for a slice of the cake, rather than a piece of the pie, since the summer

    Some native German judges I know are still playing in Denglish with their ‘handys’ whilst railing against ‘mobbing’ (bullying) of exes by ‘revenge online pornography’.

    The other way round in Frankfurt am Main, the Denglish false friends uttered by the native English CEO of Deutsche Bank – who is supposed to be ‘totally’ fluent in German and who proclaimed in an FAZ interview to justify mass job cuts that ‘Moral (the moral of the story, morals, morality or morale?) is absolutely (eine) Kernaufgabe’ – are quite puzzling, to put it mildly.

  2. Good links, Margaret. Talking of an ambiguous header, I never knew that Martin Bowdery QC was the one who had launched (during his lunchtime?) the Business and Property Courts. Perhaps punctuating differently with a dash followed by ‘an account by’ said Silk would have been less startling.

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