Legal procedures in English in Paris? now possible !

The International Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal adds English as a valid language for exhibits and witnesses.

Documents in English language are admissible as exhibits without the need for a sworn translation. Most hearings and testimonies can also be in English. Only simultaneous translation remains at the expense of the party who requires it as usual.

In a nutshell: 

  • The protocol applies to 2 degrees (Tribunal and Court of Appeal). Parties keep the regular third degree recourse, which will follow the regular process (*).
  • Exhibits in English do not require a sworn translation.
  • It is possible to hear witnesses and experts in a foreign language (not only English).
  • Preliminary hearings with a pre-trial court counselor to check that the process is in order.
  • Transcripts are bilingual, written in French to ensure their international validity, and are delivered with a sworn translation in English, cutting costs, and delays, ensuring a faster execution in a foreign country as the case may be.

(*) The third degree is a special degree where cases are managed without your usual lawyer, but by experts registered w  ith the Supreme  Court. The French supreme court examines how the Court of Appeal decided, and if its decision is in-line with laws and precedents. It is not a decision based on the merits of a case, but about its compatibility and legality in pure legal terms, detached from the facts. It is in fact a judgment upon the decision of the Court of Appeal (how it was made, does it follows the existing laws and present all the elements of international legality, etc). Then, the case is sent back to the Court of Appeal which revises its judgment according to the findings of the Supreme Court.

The official statement from the Court of Appeal of Paris

“” The Paris International Commercial Courts (PICC) deal with disputes relating to international commercial contracts in the following areas: wrongful termination of established business relationships, transport law, unfair competition, market framework agreements, and financial products. Contracts may also contain a clause conferring jurisdiction to these chambers.
The particularity of these chambers is that even if parties have chosen French law or the law of another state, proceedings will be dealt with in a “revolutionary” way : English may be used in the debates in court and proceedings which, although perfectly in accordance with French procedural rules, would accommodate some rules that are typical of the common law. Thus, provided parties consent to it, the court may permit the production of exhibits as well as the making of oral submissions in English and cross-examination of witnesses and experts, under the supervision of the judge in charge of the case. “””


EDIT: an official version is now available in English on the court of appeal (see above link).

Free translation of extracts from the protocol organizing the procedure before the International section of the Court of Appeal
NDT: Good-Standing counselor: Conseiller de la mise en état. It is a pre-trial officer of the court who ensures that the process is in good-standing before the actual court hearings.
The “Chambre International de la Cour d’Appel” has been named “International Section of the Court of appeal”, and not “chamber”, to avoid confusion with the ICC in the translation.

Art 1 – Scope

  • Commercial contract litigation, breach or termination
  • Transport litigation
  • Competition law and damages for unlawful competition
  • Any recourse against judgments economic law of international dimension, as well as recourses against arbitration sentences.

Art 2 – Procedure

  • Exhibits in English language are admissible without translation
  • Procedural documents should be in French language
  • Pleadings are in French by default, without prejudice of article 2.4

Art 2.4 – English language

  • Parties appearing before the judge, as well as witnesses, technicians, experts and counsels of the parties. If they don’t speak French, they are authorized to express themselves in English.

Art. 3 – Translations / Foreign language

  • In case of disagreement on the translation proposed by a party, the good-standing-counsellor may order a sworn translation of all or part of the document, cost incurred by the party that he decides (art 269 of civil procedure).
  • Oral debates in French can be subject to “simultaneous translation” for the comfort of a party, with a translator at the choice and cost of that party.
  • When a foreign party wishes to express itself in a foreign language, a simultaneous translation is organized with a translator chosen by agreement of both parties, cost incurred by the party who required the simultaneous translation. In case of disagreement, the Good-Standing-Counsellor chooses a translator.

Art.4 – Good-Standing 

4.1 Preliminary hearing to acknowledge the agreement of the parties to apply the procedure in this Protocol

4.1.1      As soon as he is appointed, the Good Standing Counsellor summons the parties to a first hearing in order to receive their consent to apply this protocol to the litigation.

4.3 Imperative calendar of the procedure

– (….) the Good Standing Counsellor sets the imperative calendar of the procedure, in particular:

  • Dates of exchange of further writings
  • Dates when individuals will be invited personally before the Court
  • -dates when the parties will set the final list of witnesses that they wish to hear
  • The dates of hearing of witnesses, experts or technicians
  • Dates of the pleadings by the parties counsels
  • date of closing of the debates
  • date of the judgment on the merits

The calendar can be changed during the procedure, in case of incidents or additional demands that delay the final judgments.

4.4 Before the closing of the debates, the Good Standing Counselor summons the parties to a hearing to organize the oral phase of the procedure, and to organize the languages and simultaneous translations as well as the transcripts of the declarations of the parties expressing themselves in a language different than French (art 194 and 219 Civil Procedure Code).

The rest of the Protocol is also about the organization of the debates in the best manner to allow this mullti-language-international court process to happen.

5.4 Witnesses (art 199 and f. of the civil procedure code)


5.4.3 Witnesses are heard under the rules of article 206 and following of the code of civil lprocedure.

5.4.4 The judge first interogates witnesses by asking the questions he deems necessary on any fact which proof is legally receivable. Witnesses may then be invited by the judge to answer to the the questions that the parties wish to ask.

5.5 Technicians

[The good-standing counselor is judge of the opportunity to hear the technicians proposed by the parties]

6. Debates

[Debates are public unless the court decides that the debates will remain private (art 435 code of civil procedure) ]

7. Judgment

The Judgment of International Section of the Court of Appeal of Paris will be written in French and accompanied by a sworn translation.


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