Since March 1, 2018, an International Chamber has been operational within the Paris Court of Appeal (ICAP) to hear transnational business law disputes. It is composed of English-speaking judges, specially qualified to settle complex disputes and to effectively conduct the proceedings in English.

This represents a major initiative that aims to strengthen the attractiveness of Paris as one of the most important locations for international dispute resolution.

The idea is not entirely new. For more than ten years, there has been an international chamber within the Paris Commercial Court. However, until now, a second level of jurisdiction had been lacking. (It should be noted that ICAP will also hear appeals against international arbitration awards.) Now, with the creation of the ICAP, Paris can offer international actors a full legal process.

The jurisdiction of the international chambers may result from a contractual stipulation conferring jurisdiction over the courts within the Paris Court of Appeal. A standardized clause should be suggested by the Paris Bar to specifically include the choice of ICAP.

The procedure before ICAP plans to largely allow the use of English to facilitate the rules of evidence and to ensure the speed of the procedure.

The use of English in the proceedings is facilitated.

The parties may submit exhibits in English, without a translation.

The parties, witnesses, experts and licensed foreign lawyers may also speak English during the hearings if they wish to do so.

The judgment will be written in French and joined by a translation in English.

Nevertheless, procedural pleas must be written in French.

The rules of evidence are upgraded.

In addition to linguistic advantages, the procedure before ICAP is faster and the rules of evidence are more flexible.

For instance, according to the Code of Civil Procedure, only the judge is empowered to interrogate the parties and he/she may, if he/she deems it necessary, ask them questions suggested by the other parties (Article 193 CPC). However, before the international chambers “each party may be invited by the judge to answer questions that the other parties wish to ask.” The same applies to experts and witnesses. Thus, within ICAP (and the International Chamber of the Paris Commercial Court), lawyers and/or respondents and appellants may directly address the parties, experts and witnesses, whereas only the judge is empowered to do so under the ordinary law of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Court time is rigorously managed.

Before the International Chambers, mandatory procedural timetables make it possible to set the dates for the parties, experts and witnesses’ hearings, the submission of the writs and documents, and the oral arguments hearings in advance. A maximum period of six months on average is provided for setting the dates of the deliberations.

The creation of ICAP in the context of Brexit.

With the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, British decisions will no longer benefit from the advantages provided by European regulations on enforcement. Exequatur will therefore be necessary, which will entail additional costs and delays. In this context, the International Chambers in Paris offer foreign actors a competitive procedure enforceable on EU territory that is faster and less expensive than in the United Kingdom.

With the creation of ICAP, alongside the International Chamber of the Commercial Court and the major arbitration institutions, Paris completes its system dedicated to international commercial dispute resolution and simplifies access to French courts for foreign companies.