Frankfurt am Main, Germany’s most international city and the largest financial center on the European continent, now has a special forum for cross-border disputes. As per January 1, 2018, the District Court Frankfurt/Main has established a Chamber for International Commercial Disputes. What makes the Chamber special is the fact that the hearings before the Chamber are conducted in English. The written submissions and the decisions by the Chamber are in German.

A dispute can be heard by the Chamber if

  • it is a "commercial matter" in the meaning of section 95 of the German Act on the Constitution of the Courts (GVG)
  • does not fall under the special jurisdiction of another chamber of the District Court Frankfurt/Main
  • is international and
  • the parties have agreed on the jurisdiction of the Chamber and have declared before the deadline for the statement of defense has expired that they want to plead in the hearings in English and waive the right for an interpreter (Schedule of Responsibilities of the Chambers of the District Court Frankfurt/Main 2018).

Commercial matters within the meaning of section 95 GVG are inter alia (i) actions brought against a merchant to assert a claim arising out of a transaction that is a commercial transaction for both parties, (ii) actions relating to the acquisition of an existing commercial business between the previous owner and the acquirer, (iii) actions out of a legal relationship concerning the protection of trademarks, other identifying marks and registered designs, (iv) actions based on the Act against Unfair Competition, (v) actions pursuant to section 87 of the Act against Restraints on Competition (unless the action concerns claims for information or damages under cartel law), and (vi) actions based on section 13 subsection (4) of the Act implementing the EC Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation.

The Chamber consists of one highly experienced professional judge and two business people appointed for a term of five years upon the recommendation of the local Chamber for Industry and Commerce.

Clients who want to choose the jurisdiction of the Chamber for International Commercial Disputes of the District Court of Frankfurt/Main can do this by including the following jurisdiction clause in their commercial contracts:

For all disputes arising out of or in connection with this contract, the Chamber for International Commercial Disputes of the District Court Frankfurt/Main shall have exclusive jurisdiction unless the dispute falls under the special jurisdiction of another chamber of the District Court Frankfurt/Main in which case this chamber shall have jurisdiction. For the proceedings before the Chamber for International Commercial Disputes, the Parties confirm that they want to plead in the hearings in English and that they waive the right for an interpreter.

 If you would like to learn more about the Chamber for International Commercial Disputes of the District Court Frankfurt/Main, please contact Dr. Jürgen Mark or Dr. Heiko Haller in our Dusseldorf office.

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