Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice presented a bill on April 25, 2023, that establishes new commercial courts with the aim of strengthening the country’s judicial system.
Germany is an important hub for business in a world where many businesses operate internationally and where legal disputes among international business partners are par for the course, not least because each country has their own rules of commercial law. And yet the options for having these disputes adjudicated in German courts are limited. These limited procedural options are not in line with Germany’s importance as a location for business, notes Michael Rainer, managing partner and lawyer at MTR Legal Rechtsanwälte. And that is where the new commercial courts come in.
This move by the Federal Ministry of Justice is intended to bolster the country’s judicial system in order to reverse the trend of commercial disputes being increasingly settled abroad or by arbitration courts. The draft law provides for the establishment of commercial chambers and commercial courts attached to Germany’s regional courts and higher regional courts, respectively. The legislation also seeks to make it possible for proceedings at the regional and higher regional courts to be held entirely in English, provided the parties have agreed to this arrangement.
And, if the relevant panel at Germany’s highest civil court – the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) – agrees, it will also be possible for appeals heard by the BGH against rulings of the commercial courts to be conducted in English.
The rulings of the commercial courts would then be translated into German and subsequently published. Protecting business secrets is therefore another key aspect of the bill’s plans to strengthen the judicial system in Germany. These plans require that protections be put in place for business secrets from as early as when legal actions are filed, and that these safeguards be extended to cover the entire proceedings, thus ensuring that all business secrets are kept safe, even from the publication of the rulings.
The use of video technology, e.g., when evidence is being gathering, will also be possible at hearings before the commercial chambers and commercial courts.
Since English is the go-to language when it comes to international business relations, the option to conduct the proceedings in English ought to simplify the process for the parties involved.
Those concerned – be they domestic or international potential clients – can turn to the team of commercial law experts at MTR Legal Rechstanwälte for advice.