Introduction of International Justice Departments Enabling Foreign Language Defense
According to a partial revision of court organization law, ‘international justice departments’ are first organized in the Patent Court and Seoul Central District Court and have been managed since June 13, 2018. Through the introduction of these international justice departments, English-language suits have become available for suits related to cases for trial or patent right, utility model right, design right, trademark right and various protection rights.
Since the ratio in which a foreign person or a foreign company becomes a concerned party is currently over 40%, the necessity for foreign language defense and submission of foreign language evidences has increased, and there is also an increasing necessity for Korea to become a hub of international property rights-related dispute resolution. Accordingly, the international justice departments have been introduced.
Meanwhile, prior to the introduction of the international justice departments, English language defense for the 2016HOE7695 final rejection (patent) case (plaintiff: 3M, defendant: KIPO commissioner) was tested last year (2017). In this case, both concerned parties agreed to an English language defense and the justice department authorized the English language defense, so the English language defense was proceeded with. In that defense, deputies of the plaintiff and the defendant proceeded with oral defense in English and the justice department controlled the litigation in Korean but, for smooth communication, delivered a summarized opinion in English within the needed range, and simultaneous interpretation from English-to-Korean/Korean-to-English was provided for observers.
The international justice departments were organized in two places, in the Patent Court and in the Seoul Central District Court, but in consideration of the number of international cases, etc. later, if necessary, the court president can organize in 4 additional places, the Daejoen, Daegu, Busan and Guangju district courts. Additionally, the courts organizing the international justice departments can set up and manage interpretation and translation centers as required for international litigations.
For foreign language defense proceeded with in an international justice department, regarding cases coming under any one of cases in which a concerned person is a foreigner, main evidence investigation needs to be proceeded with in a foreign language, or there is an international relation corresponding to such, the court can authorize use of a foreign language after receiving the agreement of both parties if a suit would not be noticeably delayed thereby. A request for and agreement to foreign language defense must in principle be made in a document prior to the first date for argument of a first trial or a trial on appeal, and authorization of such foreign language defense affects only the present trial. However, in cases in which both concerned parties withdraw the request and agreement to foreign language defense or there are noticeable interruptions in the trial process due to foreign language defense, the foreign language defense can be cancelled. However, even though authorization is cancelled, there is no effect on the part of a trial that has already been proceeded with.
In consideration of practical aspects of trial initiation, the available foreign language in a foreign language defense via the international justice departments is only English, but this will be expanded to different languages such as Japanese and Chinese, etc. in consideration of future international litigation and the number of cases. The presiding judge controls a suit in Korean in court and the concerned parties can defend in Korean or the foreign language (English). A Notice of Decision or Notice of Order is prepared in Korean, and the English translation thereof can be transmitted to the concerned parties. The original Notice of Decision is prepared and announced in Korean, the determination of the appeal period and effect of decision are based on the Korean Notice of Decision, and a court secretary delivers the original Notice of Decision and then transmits the foreign language translation of the Notice to the concerned parties. In the case of an appeal or a final appeal, submission of a petition of the appeal or petition of the final appeal that are prepared in the foreign language is possible.
As stated above, the international justice departments are organized and managed such that in the case that foreign companies proceed with suits related to intellectual property rights in Korea going forward, costs and time incurred by translation can be reduced and communication burdens can also be reduced, and accordingly it is expected that the approachability of the jurisdiction to foreigners or foreign companies can be improved. Also, if the international justice departments enabling foreign language defense are actively used, they are expected to be able to play a hub role in international property rights-related dispute resolution.