Federal Constitutional Court: Failure of Court To Seek International Judicial Assistance Violates Right to Effective Judicial Protection

BVerfGThe Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has held that a court’s failure to avail itself of the tools of international judicial co-operation can amount to a violation of the party’s right to effective judicial protection (Recht auf effektiven Rechtsschutz).

The decision was made in a family law matter, where the existence and validity of an adoption in Romania was in dispute. In the proceedings before the Local Court (Amtsgericht) Frankfurt am Main, the aggrieved party had been unable to produce the underlying Romanian files, but had submitted communication from the respective Romanian authority, that a request from a German court to be granted access to the files would be entertained.

The local court, however, did not attempt to get hold of these files. Its failure to use  “institutionalised facilities and measures of judicial assistance”, in particular those offered by the European Evidence Regulation and the European Judicial Network in Civil and Commercial Matters, in the circumstances of the case rendered its decision unconstitutional. Continue reading

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TV Cameras to Be Allowed in German Courtrooms?

Kassel, BundesarbeitsgerichtThe Federal Ministry of Justice has put forward a proposal that would allow TV cameras into German courtrooms. But before you get all the excited about the prospect of bringing Court TV to Germany, look at the small print: the proposal would allow cameras only into the highest courts of the five branches of the judiciary in Germany*. And the TV cameras would be allowed to roll only when the presiding judge delivers a judgment, but not during a hearing. So what you would see on TV would just be five judges on the bench, with one of them reading a – no doubt well-reasoned – judgment. That’s as exiting as will it get, if the proposal is implemented. Continue reading

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Conclusion of the Hague Service Convention: Exclusive Competence of the EU?

hcch logoLast month, we reported in Pietro Franzina’s guest post that the Council of the European Union was expected to authorise Austria to sign and ratify, and Malta to accede to, the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, “in the interest of the Union”. From a German or European perspective, this will have no practical effect, as European parties would not need to rely on the Hague Service Convention in any proceedings involving Austrian or Maltese parties, given the European Union’s Service Regulation. The decision, however, raises a wider issue, namely of the scope of the exclusive external competence of the European Union in such matters.  Continue reading

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Economic Sanctions, Commercial Contracts and International Arbitration – Hamburg, April 14, 2016

Rechtsstandort HamburgEconomic sanctions are a hot topic, in particular, but by no means only in relation to Russia. Rechtsstandort Hamburg, an initiative promoting Hamburg as an international legal venue, is takling the issues that arise at the intersection of sanctions, contracts and arbitration at an event on April 14, 2016. My Hamburg partner Christoph Stumpf will be one of the speakers. Klick here for further information.

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