The Art of Anonymous Case-Reporting: Who is Dr O?

I have written about the time-honoured German tradition of anonymous case reporting, and some rather absurd results thereof, on several occasions (see here, for example). In a recent order, the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) has taken that practice to a completely new level of meaninglessness.

The case involved one of Germany’s household food brands – I am not yet giving away which one – and dealt with the information that had to be displayed on the packaging of a popular cereal. As it is customary for disputes of this nature, the judgment included a picture of the product in question.

The written part of the judgment was carefully sanitised, as was the picture in that judgment:








So it’s Dr Oetker – who would have guessed?

I rest my case against anonymous case reporting. No doubt there are cases that should only be reported anonymously. But most commercial cases do not fall into that category. And in any event, case reports should not be sanitized for the sake of it.

The Federal Supreme Court decided, by the way, to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. Last time I checked, the ECJ still published the names of the parties…

In related news, Jochen Zenthöfer reported at the end of last year that the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has discontinued its practice of publishing the names of counsel in its decisions, citing data privacy concerns.

Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof), order (Beschluss) dated 23 July 2020, file no.I ZR 143/19

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