Attending German Court Hearings from Abroad By Videolink

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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

EU Commission: Proposal on Cross-Border Videoconferencing in Court Hearings

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.

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Updating Civil Procedure: Ideas for Reforms

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

The Month in Retrospect: What Else Happened in April 2021

Some Back and Forth on Brexit and Lugano

On 8 April 2021, I covered the first anniversay of the UK’s application to join the Lugano Convention, and took a fairly pessimistic view as to the prospects of the UK becoming a member state. So I was quite surprised to see a headline in the Financial Times on 12 April 2021 that claimed: “UK set to secure Brussels’ backing for joining legal pact“. The FT’s sources apparently got it wrong, however, and a couple of hours later the FT had to retract its report: “Brussels opposes UK bid to join legal pact, splitting EU states – European Commission says Britain should not be allowed to rejoin Lugano convention.” Other sources such as  Sueddeutsche Zeitung confirm that there had been no change in the EU Commission’s policy – there is no prospect of the UK joining Lugano any time soon. Continue reading