German Civil Procedure: What’s New in 2014

On January 1 of each year, new legislation comes into force. So what’s new in German civil procedure?                  

Not a lot, really: First, there are the new rules on withdrawing appeals before the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) which are designed to make it more difficult to prevent unfavourable precedents. As of January 2014, a party to appeal proceedings (Revision) pending before the Federal Supreme Court can no longer unilaterally prevent a judgment from being given, once the oral hearing (mündliche Verhandlung) has commenced. If the party roles are reversed, then the acknowledgement of a debt will only result in s short form judgment without legal reasons, if the other party agrees. As previously discussed in more detail, the law makers did react to a practice of corporate defendants, mainly from the financial services sector, to withdraw their appeal (Revision) before the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) once it becomes clear that the court will find against them to avoid a judgment that could serve as precedent against them.

Secondly, certain types of judgments and orders, including cost orders, must now contain information on the legal remedies that are available (Rechtsbehelfsbelehrung) against that decision. A new Sec. 232 ZPO has been introduced to that effect, and similar provisions added in other parts of the Code. However, in commercial litigation, this will be of limited relevance. The provision mainly applies in proceedings where representation by lawyers is not mandatory (Anwaltsprozess). In litigation commencing before the district courts (Landgerichte) however, representation by a lawyer is mandatory. The district courts generally have jurisdiction for all matters where the amount in dispute (Streitwert) exceeds EUR 5,000 (Sec. 23, 71 Courts Constitution Act, Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz).

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