Pledge for Greener Arbitration

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Green-Arbitration-PledgeThe aptly named Lucy Greenwood is promoting the idea of a Pledge for Greener Arbitrations. Excellent idea – here it is:

  • At all times during the arbitration I will consider and question the need to fly;

  • At all times during the arbitration I will only correspond through electronic means unless hard copy correspondence is expressly required in the circumstances;

  • As an arbitrator, I will not request hard copies of documents to be provided to me;

  • As an arbitrator, I will discourage the use of hard copy bundles in hearing rooms;

  • As an arbitrator, I will suggest, and as counsel I will consider, where appropriate, that witnesses give evidence through video-link rather than attend hearings in person;

  • I will review the level of air conditioning in hearing rooms;

  • As an arbitrator, I will not travel unnecessarily to deliberate with my co-arbitrators, and will use screen sharing/video technology instead;

  • As counsel, I will not travel unnecessarily to conduct fact finding or other interviews with witnesses and will use screen sharing/video technology instead where appropriate;

  • I will offset the carbon emissions of any flights I make to arbitration hearings.

To take the pledge, klick here!

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The Month in Retrospect: What Else Happend in May

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Robert BoyleThe Future is Female

In 2017, for the first time, a majority (52%) of lawyers newly admitted to the German bar were women, data published at the Anwaltstag showed. One could see this coming, as female law students have outnumbered men for quite a while. Overall, 34.7% of lawyers are women, and their share has been constantly rising for years: In 1970, only 4.5% of all lawyers were women. Their share rose to 7.6% in 1980, on to 15.1% in 1990, 24.6% in 2000 and in 2010, the female part of the profession accounted for 31.6%.

 

Lawyers Stick to Their Robes

The rule-setting body (Satzungsversammlung) of the German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer) convened in early May. One item on the agenda was a proposal to abolish the duty of lawyers to wear a robe in court. A majority one can oly describe as overwhelming rejected the proposal: 70 members voted against, only two memers were in favour of the reform. I personally quite like the ritual of putting on the robe before a hearing, and I would like to believe that it helps see you as of their kind, in our role of officers of the court (Organ der Rechtspflege).

The illustration is taken from  the front page of Robert Boyle’s collcetion of essays (2nd Edition, London 1669).

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Case of the Week: Brexit Does Not Facilitate Freezing Orders

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olg-frankfurt-ganz-neu2In 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, the freezing order should be granted pursuant to Section 917 para. 2 ZPO.

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Germany’s Most Exclusive Bar Remains Exclusive

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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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