The Month in Retrospect: What Else Happened in August 2021

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Coping with the Diesel Caseload

The Volkswagen wave of Diesel cases may be ebbing off in the lower courts, but Diesel-related claims against other manufacturers continue to be filed. In the Stuttgart district court (Landgericht), the number of new civil cases is up by 60%, driven primarily by Diesel claims against Daimler. And increasingly, cases end up in the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof). This had let the court to temporarily create an additional senate, i.e. a bench of five judges. a measure that is taken extremely rarely. It helps distributing the burden more equally across the bench, but does not add capacity, as the number of judges appointed to the Federal Supreme Court does not change. Continue reading

Federal Supreme Court: Jurisdiction Based on Virtual Branch Office in Germany

If international contracts are concluded online, they sometimes lack an unambiguous nexus to a specific jurisdiction. Sometimes, this makes it difficult to determinate the competent court. In a recent case involving a German customer, Air France and flights from the United States to France and then on to the UK, the lower German courts found that they had no jurisdiction. It was for the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) to provide clarity: It found that the Frankfurt District Court (Landgericht) had jurisdiction after all. Continue reading

Federal Supreme Court: First Post-Brexit Decision on Procedural Issue

To the best of my knowledge, the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) decision of 1 March 2021 is the first one dealing with one of the procedural issues arising after Brexit, namely the question of security for costs to be posted by British plaintiffs in German proceedings pursuant to Section 110 German Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung, ZPO). In this case, proceedings were already pending before the United Kingdom’s effective withdrawal from the European Union. Implicitly, the Federal Supreme Court also addresses the question whether “old” multilateral treaties such as the 1968 Brussels Convention or bilateral treaties such as the 1960 British-German Convention were revived after Brexit. Continue reading

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.
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