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France to set up court to handle English-law contracts after Brexit

France will set up a special court to handle English-law cases for financial contracts after Britain leaves the European Union, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday as Paris steps up its charm offensive to attract banks.

Most loan and derivative contracts in Europe are written in English law, but Britain’s exit from the European Union raises problems about how they would be enforced outside of Britain.

“We will create a special court to handle disputes related to financial contracts governed by English law, once the UK leaves the EU,” Le Maire said in New York during a visit to try to convince U.S. banks to move jobs to Paris.


“All proceedings will take place in English. We will hire people with experience in common law regardless of where they come from,” he said.

Though new President Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, is more relaxed about the use of English than previous French leaders, the move marks a big step for a country that takes deep pride in its language and cherishes its legal system rooted in Roman law.

“Long gone are the days when you could only do business or speak to regulators in French. We will always be proud of our language, but we also understand the need to make it easier for financial institutions operating in France,” Le Maire said in a speech.

Macron’s government is keen to convince Wall Street banks to dump London for Paris, hoping to override concerns about its rigid labour laws and high taxes with plans to push through wide-reaching reforms to make doing business easier.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to announce measures in the coming weeks to boost the attractiveness of Paris as a global financial hub, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

In New York, Le Maire was due to meet executives from banks JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Lazard , private equity firm KKR, fund giant Blackrock and hedge fund Paulson & Co. Former Bank of France governor Christian Noyer told Reuters this week that banks from London had been quietly securing licences to operate from Paris after Brexit.