The international chamber
The Commercial Court of Paris is one of the pillars of the "PARIS: international law center", alongside with the Paris Court of Appeal and the International Arbitration Chamber of Paris. In 2023, a new European jurisdiction, the Unified Patent Court (UPC), is being established in Paris too.
The courtroom available for international affairs has a videoconferencing system, translation booths and meeting rooms.
In France, the Commercial Court has handled cases between traders since 1792.
The International Chamber of the Commercial Court of Paris has been established in 1995.
Today, Paris International Law Center offers a system of two international chambers - first instance and appeal - specialized in international trade disputes submitted to French law or the law of another country.
Decisions rendered by French jurisdictions can be directly executed within the European Union, which is a considerable comparative advantage over decisions by jurisdictions outside the EU.
The international chamber of the Paris Commercial Court has adopted a new, flexible, and innovative procedure that provides an attractive judicial system that conforms to international standards. The same applies to the international chamber of the Court of Appeal. These procedural rules were set by two protocols signed in February 2018 between the Paris Bar Association, the Paris Court of Appeal, and the Commercial Court of Paris.
The Protocols enable parties to benefit from a detailed and imperative procedural time schedule for better predictability of processing times. The judicial administration of evidence is strengthened by the possibility for parties to be heard and to request the hearing of witnesses and experts including cross examination under the control of the judge. In addition, the use of the English language or other languages is permitted both in the production of documents and during hearings and pleadings.
A comprehensive practical “Guide to proceedings before the international chambers” has been drafted in French and English. It presents the procedures for handling international litigation before these chambers, from the introduction of proceedings to judgment, to enable practitioners to understand the expectations of these chambers and better anticipate, prepare, and conduct their proceedings. It also provides information on practical aspects (deadlines, costs, modes of making judgments available, etc.).
This work brings together in a single document the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and those of the aforementioned Protocols. It does not replaces the legal and regulatory provisions applicable, to which parties and their counsel are invited to refer.
On the logistical side, a new courtroom was inaugurated on October 28, 2022, at the Commercial Court of Paris. This courtroom will allow international disputes to be heard under optimal conditions. Indeed, this location has a high-performance videoconferencing system and translation booths. In addition, two adjoining meeting rooms are available to parties whose case is being heard.
The speeches of the Minister of Justice and the President of the Commercial Court dedicated to the inauguration of this location are available for download…
General jurisdiction (cf. extract from the Guide) *
The international commercial chambers of Paris are not autonomous international courts. They are integrated chambers, one at the Commercial Court and the other at the Paris Court of Appeal, which alone can be declared competent or incompetent to rule on a dispute. The parties may, according to the applicable legal procedures, contest the general jurisdiction of attribution and/or territorial jurisdiction.
The parties are free to notify the registry of their desire to have the case assigned to the international commercial chambers and to justify the reasons for this.
The rules of material jurisdiction are defined in Articles 33 to 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure. International jurisdiction is determined by applying the current European regulations and international conventions, and failing that, by applying Articles 42 and following of the Code of Civil Procedure extended to the international order.
What disputes may be assigned to the International Commercial Chambers of Paris?
These chambers are intended to deal with disputes involving the interests of international commerce. A dispute involves the interests of international commerce when the economic operation that gave rise to the dispute is not intended to be resolved economically in a single state and involves the movement of goods, services, or capital across borders.
Within this framework, the International Commercial Chamber may deal with disputes relating in particular to the following areas:
- commercial contracts and termination of commercial relations;
- transport contracts;
- unfair competition;
- compensation following a dispute in matters of anti-competitive practices;
- financial instruments transactions and place-frame agreements.
The list of areas covered by the Protocols is not exhaustive. If a dispute falling within the economic field presents sufficient internationality, it may be brought before the International Commercial Chambers.
The assignment of a case to the International Commercial Chamber of Paris may also result from a contractual stipulation attributing jurisdiction to the courts located within the jurisdiction of the Paris Court of Appeal (cf. Articles 1.3 and 1.2 of the Protocols).
Applicable law and representation of the parties
The applicable law is that of the contract or, failing that, that chosen by the parties at the opening of the proceedings. In the event of disagreement between the parties, the court chooses the applicable law in accordance with the international rules of conflict of laws under the Rome I and Rome II treaties.
Parties can be represented by a lawyer who is a national of the European Union, or by a non-European lawyer according to applicable conventions between states.
The language of the proceedings *
French remains the language of the proceedings, but the use of other languages at the request of the parties is allowed, subject to acceptance of the above-mentioned Protocol.
Use of English
During hearings, the English language may be used by the parties, witnesses, and experts or technicians appearing at the hearing, with or without an interpreter, if the parties so wish. Documents submitted by the parties may be produced in the English language without translation.
Use of a language other than French or English
During hearings, when one of the parties, an expert, or a witness wishes to speak in a foreign language other than English, simultaneous translation is provided by a translator chosen by mutual agreement of the parties, at the expense of the party requesting the hearing.
Documents written in a foreign language other than English must be produced in French. However, regardless of the foreign language used, they may be freely translated without the need for a sworn translator, unless contested by one of the parties.
Use of French
When the proceedings are conducted in French, they may still be subject to translation by an interpreter if one of the parties so requests, at their own expense.
The procedural acts are imperatively drafted in French; i.e., the following written acts: summons, notice of appeal, hearing report, hearing note, conclusions, statement of communication of documents, hearing minutes, judgment, order, and ruling.
A sworn translation of judgments into English is made if the parties have adhered to the Protocol.
In France, judges of commercial courts come from the business world. They are managers or senior executives of companies, trained in law and experienced.
The International Chamber is currently composed of 9 judges, all of whom have a working knowledge of English and other languages, due to their training and professional background in companies with international activities.
The International Chamber also benefits from can also take advantage of the experience of the other 171 judges of the Paris Commercial Court specializing in various fields, such as monetary and financial law or transport and insurance.
The International Chamber benefits from an essential quality recognized at the Paris Commercial Court, that of the diligence of its procedures, which are subject to monthly performance indicators as part of its ISO 9001 quality certification.
The International Chamber of the Paris Commercial Court applies the low-cost procedural costs of the French judicial institution, particularly compared to the costs practiced by other Anglo-Saxon judicial institutions or certain arbitration organizations.
The French system offers access to a second level of jurisdiction dedicated to international business disputes, which distinguishes it from many international commercial chambers.
Possible appeals against decisions of the International Chamber of the Paris Commercial Court are made to the international chamber of the Court of Appeal of Paris, composed of bilingual judges familiar with international practices.
Other advantages of the International Chamber and the Paris legal system
In his speech at the inauguration of the new courtroom in October 2022, the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, highlighted the advantages of the international judicial chambers in Paris.
Excerpt from the speech: The protocols that the Paris legal system has established for commercial matters create a "new procedure, which must be emphasized for its unprecedented character" and which "incorporates some of the flexibility of common law and arbitration, while preserving and promoting the French legal tradition.
This dynamic, flexible, and fast procedure allows easier access to French commercial courts and promotes their choice when it comes to including a jurisdiction clause in a contract.
Indeed, I see in the promotion of these chambers and their procedures an opportunity to promote the influence of the French civil law tradition built around legal security and predictability.
The French model of "continental law" has served as a reference for many foreign national legislations. This was the case in Latin America, for example, but also in a significant part of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. This proximity of legislations favors Paris, which offers commercial actors access to judges qualified in continental law and open to common law...".
* NOTE :
The pages of the Paris Commercial Court website are not intended to present the exhaustiveness of commercial legislation in force but to give a general overview to non-experts in French and European commercial law, and thus increase its accessibility and understanding.
Anyone interested in a procedure should refer to the specific texts of the law and protocols mentioned above, possibly seek advice from a legal professional, and contact the services of the Paris Commercial Court registry.