It may be coincidental, but the parallel cannot be overseen: The Brexit is getting increasingly clearer on the horizon – and the Frankfurt High Court (Landgericht Frankfurt am Main) starts its international ambitions in practice. Since January 2018 the Frankfurt High Court provides a specialized chamber for commercial matters.
This enables English native speaker parties to discuss and negotiate cases in court hearings in the first instance at the Frankfurt High Court in English – deviating from the rule, that the “court language” is German, cf. sec. 184 German Code on Court Organisation (GVG – Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz, allowing also Sorbian as a language for a minority in certain parts of Germany).
The chamber for international commercial matters is presided by Presiding Judge Ulrike Willoughby (Vorsitzende Richterin), in case of her absence or other hindrances, Dr. Ina Frost will be in charge.
This institution at an international business place as Frankfurt adds an important international aspect to doing business in Germany, which is notable even more recollecting the fact that London is a comparable expensive place of jurisdiction.
This is precedented by projects in Northrhine-Wesphalia, where in Aachen, Bonn and Cologne such chambers had been installed already since 2010. Contrary to Northrhine-Westphalia, however, this is not paralleled by a similar structure in the appeals instance – the OLG Frankfurt (Frankfurt Court of Appeal) does not provide an equivalent senate that offers court hearings in the English language. But that may soon be altered as well in the nearer future.
So as the details and further effects still need to be cleared – not only the aspect of how to appeal, but also how to enforce judgements reasoned and written in the English language – the Frankfurt High Court is prepared for handling international cases in the English language as well. The reactions from a presentation of the project last April among the business community including litigation lawyers showed a high interest in the project – which the practice needs to validate.
The competent secretary of Justice and the President of the Frankfurt High Court support the project strongly and the President is cited it “may open a completely new chapter”.
Christoph Just is a litigation partner in our firm and represents companies in numerous court and arbitration proceedings. He is also a specialist in administrative law and advises companies and public bodies on all matters of public commercial and public procurement law.