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English Spoken in German Commercial Court Litigations

March 03, 2010

By Dr. Heidi Hellwig

Status Quo

Currently, German statutory law provides:

the German language is the official language used in court.

Cross border commercial contracts are usually drawn up and negotiated in the English language. Naturally, in the event of a dispute, the parties aim to avoid a mix-up between contract and dispute language, and, therefore, prefer English as the official language of litigation. Neither English nor any other foreign language is, however, an optional official language before the ordinary German courts.

As one of the consequences, it is the German market standard that legal opinions contain the qualification that any enforcement of the relevant opinion document at issue in Germany may require the translation of foreign language documents into German.

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