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...

Dispute resolution—Germany—Q&A guide

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: June 2021).

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 supreme court – are at state level, but organised in a uniform way by federal law:

  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; at larger regional courts there are particular 'mixed' panels for commercial matters in which one professional judge and two juror-like lay judges with knowledge of business and commercial practices decide together 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

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