In a decision today, the Braunschweig district court (Landgericht) has transferred two cases* brought by hedge funds investors against Porsche to the Hannover district court. The claimants are pursuing damages claims against Porsche related to Porsche’s attempt to take over Volkswagen.
We have mapped the claimants’ jurisdictional journey, involving courts in New York, Stuttgart, Hannover and Braunschweig, here before. Today’s court orders are based on the fact that claimants rely on anti-trust theories as the basis of their claims. They allege that Porsche had exploited a dominant market position that it had created in Volkswagen stock.
Under the rules applicable in the State of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen)*, the Hannover district court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear cartel and antitrust cases. The Braunschweig court order to transfer the cases (Verweisungsbeschluss) cannot be challenged (unanfechtbar). So at least these cases have found a permanent home at the Hannover court house. I have stopped tracking all cases, but according to press reports, Hannover now deals with four matters altogether, with a total claim amount of just under EUR 4 billion. Further actions are pending in London, Frankfurt, Braunschweig and Stuttgart.
* The cases are 5 O 2077/11 (action against Porsche Automobil Holding S.E. and Volkswagen AG for payment of EUR 1,797,770,245.05) and 5 O 3086/11 (Action against Porsche Automobil Holding S.E. for payment of EUR 351,062,690.22).
** Verordnung zur Regelung von Zuständigkeiten in der Gerichtsbarkeit und der Justizverwaltung (ZustVO-Justiz). One should note in that context that the rules of German civil procedure are federal law pretty much witout exception. The allocation of certain matters to more specialized courts is one of the few instances where the federal states, such as Lower Saxony in our case, can create additional rules. But then, the federal rules must first have delegated the power to do so to the states.