Various European countries have created in the last 24 months special state courts for international commercial court disputes which can handle cases in English. Singapore had established its a Singapore International Commercial Court in 2015. In Germany, there is a special Chamber at the Landgericht Frankfurt called the Chamber for International Commercial Matters since the beginning of 2018. In Holland, the Netherlands Commercial Court will commence its work also this year. In Paris, both first and second instance chambers for international commercial disputes have been available since spring 2018. Belgium also wants to create a specialized court, the Brussels International Business Court, which should be operational at the beginning of 2020.
What all models have in common is that the parties can litigate in English, the lingua franca of a globalized economy, so the parties are not required to conduct their cases in the official local languages like German, Dutch or French. The said court projects aim at offering state court proceedings which sometimes may replace international arbitration. It is widely acknowledged that arbitration proceedings are not always the ideal way to go in in all dispute cases due to cost considerations and since arbitral rulings can only be challenged to a limited extent.
Many businesses seeking judicial redress - e.g. Swiss SMEs operating internationally - have the need to submit international commercial disputes to competent state courts. The international commercial courts are also seen as part of a "service public" which serves the good investment climate in a particular country.
Switzerland is now also jumping on this band wagon by evaluating whether the Zurich Commercial Court might create a specialized chamber dealing with international commercial in the English language. Similar efforts exist for the Canton of Geneva, which is also a center for the global business community.
Preparing the necessary federal and cantonal legislative grounds for establishing such specialized courts is one thing, whilst finding state judges with more than a solid work language English is just another challenge. The community of international lawyers serving as arbitrators and arbitration party counsels in both Geneva and Zurich will be able to help out to that end.
A topic entirely missed in the present discussion is of constitutional relevance, as the English language is not an official language according to the Swiss Constitution. However, the Cantons have considerable constitutional leeway in that respect though it is clear that the cantons cannot act w/o the changes and amendments under the Swiss Federal Civil Procedural Act of 2011.
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