Until recently, a lawyer issuing proceedings in a German court against a foreign party could, as a matter of principle, assume that she had done everything necessary to suspend the statute of limitations or otherwise comply with an applicable time limit if two requirements were met: First, she had to file the statement of claim (Klageschrift) with the court in good time. Secondly, upon the court’s request the claimant had to immediately pay the advance on court as well as an advance on costs, if any, for a translation for service abroad. If these requirements were met. then service was deemed to have taken place on the date of filing the statement of claim with the court pursuant to Section 167 ZPO (Zivilprozessordnung; Code of Civil Procedure). Continue reading
This week, yet another Brexit deadline expired without additional clarity as to when and on what terms Brexit will occur. This creates uncertainties, which affect business relations with British parties, and impact, amongst many other fields, civil litigation. So in this week’s Case of the Week, we present the three cases I know of in which German courts had to decide on Brexit-related issues. The cases deal with security for costs, the validity of choice of court agreements and with freezing orders in a Brexit context. Continue reading
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.
The Frankfurt Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht) is creating additional specialized senates (a Senat is a division of the court of appeals, sitting with three judges) as of the beginning of this year.