New Commercial Court in Germany

Commercial law to be strengthened in german judiciary

What does the key issues paper on the new so-called Commercial Court for commercial law envisage in Germany?

Published on: 19.01.2023
Qualification: Attorney in Munich
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This week, the german Ministry of Justice presented a key points paper that provides for innovations in commercial law. The most important points at a glance.

Commercial courts in Germany: hearings in English

The draft provides that, initially, certain commercial disputes can be conducted extensively in English at certain regional courts in Germany if desired. The prerequisite would be that the parties agree on the English language of the proceedings when the contract is concluded and that there is an objective reason for the choice of language. 

Accordingly, the instances that may follow these proceedings and the respective appeal or complaint proceedings at the higher regional court should also be conducted in English. Here, the german states are to be given the option of collecting the proceedings at a special senate. The regular appeal against the decisions of the OLGs is then opened to the german Federal Supreme Court (BGH).

In order to enable efficient enforcement and to support the further development of the law, judgments of all instances are to be translated into German and regularly published. 

Specialized judges in german and international commercial law & modern equipment

The judges in these so-called commercial courts at the regional and higher regional courts in Germany are to have special qualifications in commercial law as well as in the English language and conduct of negotiations. In addition, they are to have access to special and modern technical equipment, which is to enable more comprehensive video hearings and video evidence recordings.

At the german Federal Supreme Court, the appeal can then be conducted in English if the respective judges give their consent. Since the BGH judges have special qualifications anyway and their number is limited, no special training should be provided here. 

Protecting trade secrets in the german trial process

Another improvement in the key points paper concerns the more comprehensive protection of trade secrets in german civil proceedings. At present, the public can be excluded from a hearing if an important trade secret is discussed in the proceedings.

In the future, trade secrets are to be protected as soon as a lawsuit is filed in Germany: Information classified as confidential is not to be used or disclosed outside of the proceedings. 

Conclusion: What are the benefits of commercial courts in Germany?

The fact that proceedings in Germany can also be conducted in English in the future certainly makes sense and may even relieve the financial burden on the courts in the long term: Currently, English-speaking parties often have to bring costly court interpreters to the proceedings and have all documents translated in advance. In the german business world, English-language communication often corresponds to the lived reality. 

However, the comprehensive protection of trade secrets and the promotion of modern video technology should probably not be limited to the commercial courts alone in Germany. The german judiciary still has a lot of potential here to arrive in the present.