Dispute resolution—Germany—Q&A guide
Dispute resolution—Germany—Q&A guide

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Dispute resolution—Germany—Q&A guide
  • 1. What is the structure of the civil court system?
  • 2. What is the role of the judge and the jury in civil proceedings?
  • 3. What are the time limits for bringing civil claims?
  • 4. Are there any pre-action considerations the parties should take into account?
  • 5. How are civil proceedings commenced? How and when are the parties to the proceedings notified of their commencement? Do the courts have the capacity to handle their caseload?
  • 6. What is the typical procedure and timetable for a civil claim?
  • 7. Can the parties control the procedure and the timetable?
  • 8. Is there a duty to preserve documents and other evidence pending trial? Must parties share relevant documents (including those unhelpful to their case)?
  • 9. Are any documents privileged? Would advice from an in-house lawyer (whether local or foreign) also be privileged?
  • More...

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to dispute resolution in Germany published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: May 2020).

Authors: Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft—Karl von Hase

1. What is the structure of the civil court system?

Civil and commercial litigation is handled by the ordinary courts. All ordinary courts—except for the Federal Court of Justice as the supreme court—are at state level, but organised in a uniform way by federal law as follows:

  1. 638 local courts (one professional judge) as entry level for petty claims (value up to €5,000) and—under certain circumstances—with the power to order provisional remedies irrespective of the value of the disputes;

  2. 115 regional courts (panels of three professional judges, but generally handling cases by a single professional judge) for claims exceeding €5,000 and for appeals against most judgments of local courts;

  3. 24 higher regional courts (generally panels of three professional judges) for appeals against judgments of regional courts and in certain cases local courts, but also entry-level jurisdiction for certain special matters (eg, recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards); and

  4. the Federal Court of Justice (panels of five professional judges), which acts as supreme court in civil litigation and decides on further appeals.

Cases at the higher regional courts and the Federal Court of Justice are allocated on the basis of subject matter, thereby

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