The Volkswagen wave of Diesel cases may be ebbing off in the lower courts, but Diesel-related claims against other manufacturers continue to be filed. In the Stuttgart district court (Landgericht), the number of new civil cases is up by 60%, driven primarily by Diesel claims against Daimler. And increasingly, cases end up in the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof). This had let the court to temporarily create an additional senate, i.e. a bench of five judges. a measure that is taken extremely rarely. It helps distributing the burden more equally across the bench, but does not add capacity, as the number of judges appointed to the Federal Supreme Court does not change. Continue reading
I have written here before about Germany’s most exclusive bar, the fourty or so lawyers admitted to the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in civil matters. Every now and then, attempts are being made to reform this part of the German legal system. Mainly, these attempts take the form of challenges in the courts against the way the members of the bar are selected and appointed – thus far, these challenges failed. The current system has been upheld time and again by the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht).
When the presidents of the German bar associations (Rechtsanwaltskammern), the self-governing bodies of the German legal profession, met earlier this month, two reform proposals for the Supreme Court bar were on their agenda. A very bold proposal suggested to abolish the exclusivity altogether and to open up representation at the highest court in civil matters to every lawyer. The second one was less revolutionary; it proposed to grant admission to those who qualified in a procedure similar to that for lawyers seeking to qualify as certified specialists (Fachanwalt) for certain areas of the law.
If German judges apply foreign law, they are no less error-prone than in the application of their own laws. Hence, the question arises how (alleged) mistakes of a lower court in the determination and application of the foreign law are to be treated at the appeal stage. The Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) has provided specific guidance in a recent decision. Continue reading
As of today, Bettina Limperg is the first woman president of the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in the court’s history. Since 1950, eight men had held the office.