Art Law: Constitutional Challenges against Cultural Property Protection Act Fail

Almost to the day five years after the Act on the Protection of Cultural Property (Kulturschutzgesetz; KGSG) entered into force, the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) published a decision which dismissed several constitutional complaints (Verfassungsbeschwerden) challenging various previsions of the Cultural Property Protection Act. The constitutional complaints were brought by art and antiquity dealers and auction houses. They alleged that certain provisions of the Cultural Property Protection Act violated their basic rights (Grundrechte) based on Article 12, which protects the freedom to choose and exercise one’s profession and occupation and on Article 14 Basic Law (Grundgesetz),which guarantees and protects the right to private property. Continue reading

New Justice at the Federal Constitutional Court: Astrid Wallrabenstein

On 15 May 2020, the Bundesrat (literally “Federal Council”, a legislative body that represents the sixteen federal states at the federal level), elected Astrid Wallrabenstein as a justice to serve on the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht).

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Case of the Week: Federal Constitutional Court Allows Search of Jones Day’s Offices in Volkswagen Case

BundesverfassungsgerichtA little under a year ago, we reported that the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) had issued an injunction that stopped the Munich Public Prosecution Office (Staatsanwaltschaft München) to look into and use the documents it seized at the Munich offices of law firm Jones Day. A quick recap of the facts:

Jones Day has acted as counsel to Volkswagen in the diesel emissions matter since September 2015. It carried out an internal investigation, interviewing more than 700 Volkswagen staff, primarily in the context of criminal proceedings against Volkswagen in the United States. In March 2017, the Public Prosecution Office obtained a seizure order for the Jones Day offices in Munich and secured extensive documentation that stemmed from the internal investigation.

In July 2017, the Federal Constitutional Court ordered the Public Prosecution Office (Staatsanwaltschaft) München not to make use of the documents it seized and to have the documents put in custody with the Local Court (Amtsgericht) München, while the Federal Constitutional Court was considering the constitutional complaints (Verfassungsbeschwerden) filed by Volkswagen, Jones Day, and individual Jones Day lawyers. Today, shortly before the expiry of the second extension period, the court has dismissed all constitutional complaints.

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Art Law: Fifteen Years of Limbach Commission – Taking Stock, and Looking Ahead, Bonn, 4 July 2018

Uni Bonn LogoThe “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property”, better known as Limbach Commission after its first chair women, Jutta Limbach, was formed in 2003. We have covered various aspects of the Limbach Commission’s work, for example here and here. Jutta Limbach, the former president of the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) passed away in September 2016. Her successor as the chairman of the advisory commission is Hans-Jürgen Papier, also a former judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, and Jutta Limbach’s successor as the president of the court upon her retirement from judicial office in 2002.

Hans-Jürgen Papier will speak at the inaugural event of the Bonn Round Table on Art & Cultural Heritage Law (Bonner Gesprächskreis Kunst- und Kulturgutschutzrecht) on 4 July 2018 (see here for details). Matthias Weller (see here for his guest post on the Gurlitt case) has initiated the round table. He has been appointed, effective this summer term, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Professor for Art & Cultural Heritage Law at Bonn University. This chair was created as part of Bonn University’s initiative that saw the creation of two professorships dedicated to provenance research – a first at a German University, which we covered here earlier. I hope to be able to attend, and report on, the event.