“France is back!” seems to be the recurring theme behind many new French government initiatives aimed at attracting more investment into France, and to try to benefit from the economic and legal uncertainty resulting from the UK’s planned departure from the European Union. This also applies to the French legal system, which is seeking to attract the resolution of more international disputes through the creation of a dedicated International Chamber within the jurisdiction of the Paris courts. Do the English courts need to worry that their dominant position is being threatened?
On 7 February 2018 the ‘First Protocol’ was signed, creating the International Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Paris (the Chambre Internationale de la Cour d’appel de Paris, “CICAP”). This was followed by the ‘Second Protocol’, aimed at harmonising the procedure applicable to the International Chamber and shining a light on the existing Tribunal of Commerce’s equivalent first degree chamber. The CICAP fulfils the objective of having an international business chamber specialising in international commerce and trade disputes.
The new procedural rules set forth by the protocols, inspired by English common law, seek to reinforce the attractiveness of French jurisdictions for the settlement of international disputes. The protocols now allow for the disclosure of documents in the English language, disregarding the previous need for French translation. It will also be possible to hear the evidence of witnesses and experts in English, as all judges will be English speaking. More flexibility will also be given to the production of evidence; parties may obtain the forced disclosure of documents required by it as evidence necessary for the settlement of a dispute. The admission of statements will also be made easier as, with the parties’ consent, typed statements will be admissible without the usual requirement of a signature.
These recent efforts to develop a more specialised dispute resolution system in France are clearly directed towards a more business-friendly approach to international dispute resolution, competing against the widely recognised popularity of the English courts in this field.
With the UK leaving the European Union, there is uncertainty surrounding the basis on which English court decisions will be recognised and enforced in individual European countries. The attractiveness of England as a dispute resolution forum lies in the widely-held recognition of English law as a favourable choice of law to govern commercial parties’ relationships, being based upon a well-known body of precedents and widely interpreted business principles. Yet, this may change following the recent efforts of the French legislators to simplify and adapt French laws to the global competition.
The protocols are already in force and apply to disputes/appeals commenced from 1 March 2018.
For further information, please read here.
Aymeric de Tapol