In my opinion, obtaining a freezing order (Arrest) against the debtor pending final judgment tends to be rather difficult in this jurisdiction. Often, the courts set the bar for showing that “the enforcement of the judgment would be frustrated or be significantly more difficult”, as Section 917 German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO) puts it, frustratingly high. It is somewhat easier if the debtor is situated abroad: Section 917 para. 2 ZPO stipulates that it is sufficient grounds for a freezing order if the judgment would have to be enforced abroad and there is no reciprocity with the foreign jurisdiction (Arrestgrund der Auslandsvollstreckung). As there is reciprocity across all member states of the European Union, this does not work, however, with respect to a debtor situated in the United Kingdom – at least for now.
In a recent case in the Frankfurt Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht), the applicant was seeking a freezing order against a German national who had moved to the United Kingdom. The applicant argued that given the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and given that a final judgment would not be in place prior to the current Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019, the reciprocity exemption should not apply to the United Kingdom. Accordingly the freezing order should be granted pursuant to Section 917 para. 2 ZPO.
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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.
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Professor Matthias Weller, University of Bonn, (who has contributed to this blog in the past) hat issued the following press release about an exiting new project, which I would like to share with you:
“In April 2019, research began at the University of Bonn on international practice in the restitution of artworks stolen under the Nazi regime. Head of the research project is Prof. Dr. Matthias Weller, who holds the “Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach professorship for civil law, art and cultural property law”.
The project aims to provide a comprehensive, comparative analysis of international practice in the restitution of Nazi-looted art. It aims to establish a generalized set of rules on how decisions are made based on considerations of fairness and justice.
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We have tracked this case in previous posts: In what appears to be the first action of this kind, victims of a fire in a Pakistani textile factory, with the support of an NGO, brought an action against a German textile importer for damages, seeking to establish its liability as part of the supply chain. Kik, a German textile retailer, allegedly was one of the major customers of that factory. The Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht) Hamm has confirmed the lower court’s judgment dismissing that action. Continue reading →