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Commercial law – a French-British perspective

How do international courts in France differ to those in England and Wales when it comes to judging international commercial cases? And would they be likely to reach the same conclusion?

I recently hosted a roundtable for the Franco-British Lawyers’ Society (FBLS) to discover the contemporary issues of commercial law from a Franco-British law perspective.

The roundtable found that, after comparing the two judicial systems in judging high-value commercial cases involving parties from different jurisdictions, the conclusion was that a fair and just outcome could be achieved in either system. Although, the way of reaching the outcome remained radically different.

The main points of difference:

  • Evidence is put before the court through the compulsory process of full disclosure in England and Wales, whereas it’s voluntarily put before the court by the parties in France at the start of the judicial process (often following ex-parte proceedings to gather evidence from the other side).
  • Witnesses, including expert witnesses and witnesses in foreign law, are put forward by the parties in England and Wales, but summoned by the judge in France.
  • Language: hearings at the International Court in Paris can be in English but hearings at the High Court are exclusively in English.
  • Average length: a hearing for international commercial cases in the High Court takes an average of nine days, but can take many weeks. Hearings in Paris are considerably shorter.
  • Contract law: the notion of good faith was raised and the principles of equity.

Experts on the roundtable included:

  • Fabienne Schaller, judge and président of the Chambre Commerciale Internationale (CCIP-CA) and international commercial court judge (ICCP-CA), Paris
  • Mr Justice Simon Picken, High Court judge and senior Judiciary representative on the European network of Councils for the Judiciary; lead judge for Europe
  • Dr Catherine Pedamon, president of the FBLS, England and Wales, programme director, LLM Commercial Courses and senior lecturer in Law
  • Estelle Cros, judge and magistrat de liaison au Royaume Uni

How we can help

For more information on the legal issues when doing business between the UK and France, and vice versa, please contact or telephone +44 (0)7824 409 972.