The new international divisions of the Paris Commercial Court and the Paris Court of Appeal, also known as the "International Chambers," will start operating imminently. Under highly innovative rules of procedure (the "Protocoles"), parties appearing before those Chambers are given unprecedented flexibility. Shearman & Sterling proposes an unofficial English translation of each the two Protocoles.1
In the aftermath of Brexit, a number of European Member States have engaged in a race to take over from London as the next European Union primary legal hub. In this context, the French Minister of Justice has worked in collaboration with the Paris Bar to create "an attractive jurisdictional system"2 adapted to contemporary economic and legal international challenges.
On 7 March 2017, the French Minister of Justice asked a special committee ("Haut comité juridique de la place financière de Paris" or HCJP) to propose a court before which foreign commercial parties would be able to submit their disputes irrespective of the law applicable to their contract or the language used therein. Under the supervision of Mr. Guy Canivet (member of the French Constitutional Council), the HCJP issued a Report on 3 May 2017 (available here) with 41 practical proposals for integrating international divisions within the current French judicial system without having to create new specialized jurisdictions.
On that basis, two Protocoles were signed on 7 February 2018 to establish the rules applicable to proceedings before the International Chambers. Both Chambers were inaugurated on 12 February 2018.3
The Rules Applicable to the International Chamber of the Paris Commercial Court
The first new Protocole (available here) sets out the rules of procedure applicable in proceedings before the International Chamber of the Paris Commercial Court (the new name given to the existing International and European Commercial Chamber of the Paris Commercial Court, or "Chambre internationale et de droit européen").4 The International Chamber is composed of ten English-speaking judges (including the International Chamber's President) who will apply either French law or any other rules of foreign law applicable to the merits of the case5 and will abide by the principles detailed below.
The Court's "Placement Chamber" ("chambre de placement") will allocate a dispute to the International Chamber when the dispute is of an economic and commercial nature with an international dimension, and in particular when provisions of European law or of a foreign law (i.e., not French) apply or may apply (Article 1). More specifically, the International Chamber will hear disputes regarding commercial contracts or the termination of commercial relationships; disputes in the field of transport; disputes regarding unfair competition; actions for damages arising from anticompetitive practices; as well as disputes concerning a variety of financial instruments and products. The International Chamber's jurisdiction may also derive from a contractual clause by which parties have agreed to give jurisdiction to Paris Courts.
The procedure before the Paris Commercial Court is oral and all procedural documents (e.g., procedural applications, submissions and orders) must be drafted in French.6 The Protocole nevertheless allows parties to submit exhibits in English without...