Based on a pilot project, panels of judges were set up in the district of the Cologne Court of Appeals where oral court hearings may be held in the English language. Almost two years after the start of the pilot project, the first oral hearing in English before the Cologne High Court took place on November 24, 2011.
Defendant was represented by Dr. Christof Siefarth, LL.M., partner in the Cologne office of GÖRG. "The possibility to conduct court hearings in English corresponds with the urgent desire of international businesses and poses no major problems for both German courts and attorneys", says Christof Siefarth and adds: "GÖRG represents its domestic and international clients in all areas of business law, also in international court and arbitration proceedings, often in English – why not in front of German courts?"
The pilot project is a first step in the establishment of chambers for international commercial matters with German high courts. In a first step, it is only possible to conduct the oral hearing in English, provided both parties mutually file a respective application and if the case has an international link. There are plans to allow the filing of briefs and the preparation of judgments in English, however, this requires an amendment of the respective statute. In a hearing before the judiciary committee of the German Bundestag on November 9, 2011, most experts welcomed the pilot project as well as the envisaged amendment of the statute.