Speeding Up the Courts: The First Award of Damages for Excessive Lenghts of Proceedings

In December 2011, we reported about the legislation that was just introduced to sanction the excessive duration of legal proceedings. The German parliament addressed concerns of the European Court of Human Rights, who had criticized Germany for lacking effective remedies for excessive lengths of proceedings. Parties to such long-drawn proceedings can now be awarded monetary damages if the courts take longer than they should have. The new provisions were not exactly received with great enthusiasm, and most commentators were sceptical or even cynical about the effectiveness of the new law. So it was very interesting to see the first damages award come in. Continue reading

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How Long Does It Take? Some Data on German Civil and Commercial Disputes

How long will it take? Inevitably, one of the first questions of any client getting involved in litigation. So far, I have only reported about extreme cases that took 18 years and more, and posted on legislative efforts to speed up the courts. We all hardly ever tell war stories about the quick and efficient matters. So a more scientific approach appears to be called for, based on official data issued by the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt). The German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer) has usefully summarized the most recent available data for 2010. Continue reading

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“Just relax, take it easy… just sit down, take it slowly…”

At the outset of a litigation, clients inevitably ask how long the matter will take. And they do not want me to quote the lyrics of an old Cat Stevens song. But frankly, in many cases, that would be the best I could do. And going by two recent decisions, I would need to add, being the cautious lawyer that I am: “You’re still young, there’s so much you have to go through…” Continue reading

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Speeding Up the Courts

There is quite some legislative activity impacting litigation at the moment: On Friday, December 2, 2011, the Law on Judicial Remedies in Court Proceedings and Criminal Investigations of Excessive Length (Gesetz über den Rechtsschutz bei überlangen Gerichtsverfahren und strafrechtlichen Ermittlungsverfahren) has been published in the Federal Gazette and became effective the day after.

By passing this law, Germanyis reacting to several judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. In 125 matters before the ECHR, Germany paid compensation due to  excessive length of judicial proceedings, and approx. 80% of all judgments delivered against Germany before the ECHR are due to such violations of the reasonable-time requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Continue reading

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