Before the German courts, German is the exclusive official language (Section 184 GVG). The popularity of Germany as a forum for international legal disputes suffers as a result. In certain cases, some courts allow the parties to dispense with the use of interpreters in oral proceedings and instead hold the hearing in English. Written pleadings, minutes of hearings and all court orders and decisions must, however, continue to be written in German. Annexes, especially contracts, must be made available to the court with a German translation.
Despite the high international reputation of German law and the German judiciary, foreign contracting parties therefore shy away from choosing German law for contracts and the jurisdiction of the German courts for eventual disputes. Significant commercial law disputes are therefore often conducted abroad or before arbitral tribunals. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany in particular are at a disadvantage because (more…)