Last week, the Federal Ministry of Justice published a draft bill which aims at making video hearings standard practice. The scope of Section 128a Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO) will be expanded; the provision will supplemented by a new Section 284 para. 2 ZPO dealing with the taking of evidence by video. Continue reading
It is a contested issue whether it is admissible for parties to attend German court hearings by videolink whilst being abroad. Many, if not the majority of legal commentators argue that this is not admissible without prior approval from the foreign state concerned, because the German court thereby exercises Germany’s sovereign on foreign soil and thus violates the sovereignty of the foreign state where the parties are located. Continue reading
When the pandemic started and court hearings by video became a real thing, German lawyers found, sometimes to their surprise, that the law was actually quite advanced: Already back in 2002, Section 128a ZPO was introduced to allow the conduct of court hearings using videoconferencing technology and the law was updated in 2013 (see our earlier post “Remote Courts in Germany” for details). The law in action has since caught up with the law on the books: Courts have been equipped with the necessary hardware and hearings by videoconferencing have become a regular feature in many court rooms across the country – and they are likely to stay in a post-pandemic world. However, there remains some uncertainty regarding the use of videoconferencing in a cross-border context.
Germany elects a new federal parliament (Bundestag) on 26th September 2021. Christine Lambrecht, the federal minister of justice is not running again. So irrespective of the outcome of the election, we will see a new face at the helm of the ministry. There is no shortage of ideas for the incoming minister to choose from if he or she goes about reforming civil procedure. Proposals range from the introduction of international commercial courts to dozens of proposals around the digitisation of civil procedure. Continue reading