Hamburg sends draft bill to Bundesrat - certain court cases in English

Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia seek to strengthen German judiciary
01 April 2021
Anna Gallina in the Bundesrat

The states of Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia submitted Friday (March 26, 2021) a draft bill to the Bundesrat under which trade procedures between international companies would be conducted in English in German courts in future. At present, major proceedings are frequently held in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Draft bill to strengthen Germany as a legal location

"We want to strengthen the German judiciary in commercial disputes and especially against the backdrop of Brexit," said Anna Gallina, Hamburg's Senator for Justice. Many of the proceedings have so far been held in London and Brexit is likely to lead to a shift in commercial disputes. "The German judiciary enjoys a high international reputation. A specialisation in commercial cases and by offering English as the language of proceedings would allow us to strengthen our position in international legal relations and make Germany more attractive as a jurisdiction for commmercial stakeholders," said Gallina.

One commercial court per state

The German states would be able to set up assemblies at the higher regional courts for international commercial disputes involving EUR 2 million or more. A maximum of one commercial court per federal state is planned for international companies in Germany. The plans also foresee conducting court cases in the English language, new regulations on the confidentiality of corporate, sensitive data and the parties influence on the structure of the proceedings. However, the court constitution act and civil procedure law would have to be adapted before the draft bill can become law.