What are the types of Courts in Germany?
The German judicial system can be separated into courts comprising civil and criminal jurisdiction, the labor courts, the fiscal courts and the social courts. There are six federal courts in Germany: the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Court of Justice, the Administrative Supreme Court, the Federal Fiscal Court, the Federal Fiscal Court and the Federal Social Court.
The Federal Constitutional Court is divided in two Senates, each of them consisting in eight judges. The sixteen judges are elected half of them by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesra (Federal legislative bodies) for twelve years. The re-election of the judges is not allowed. The Senates are also divided into three Chambers with three members each.
The State Constitutional Courts are independent from any governmental body and are located in each of the states located in Germany. There are 12 State Constitutional Courts which are not in the same hierarchical structure as the Federal Constitutional Court.
The courts comprising civil and criminal jurisdiction can be divided into the Federal Court of Justice, the State Appellate Courts, the Regional Courts and the First Instance Courts.
The Federal Court of Justice is located in Karlsruhe and it’s divided into Civil Panels and Criminal Panels. There are 12 civil panels and 3 criminal panels. The German Federal Court of Justice has also its own body of practicing lawyers, because in civil appeal proceedings the involved parties must be represented by a lawyer exclusively admitted to the Federal Court of Justice. There are 23 State appellate courts acting as second instance courts in Germany. The German Regional courts are located in more than 100 German regions. There several hundred first instance courts in Germany.
The administrative courts are divided into the Administrative Supreme Court, the Administrative Appellate Courts, Administrative first instance all hearing cases related to the administration.
There are also the labor courts: the Federal Labor Court, located in Erfurt, Superior State Labor Courts and Inferior State Labor Courts.
The Federal Fiscal Court is formed by eleven senates with a total of 60 judges.
The Federal Social Court is located in Kassel and is the last instance for cases already heard in the Social Courts.
What are the responsibilities of the Courts in Germany?
The Constitutional Court- Bundesverfassungsgericht has jurisdiction on matters concerning the German Constitution. It has no authority regarding the State Constitution, which in entirely in the jurisdiction of the State Constitutional Courts.
The State Constitutional Courts- Verfassungsgericht are considered the only instances for hearing cases related to the Federal Constitution, its decisions cannot be appealed.
The Federal Court of Justice- Bundesgerichtshof it’s considered the highest court of appeal for all the cases already heard in the second instance courts. It hears both criminal and civil cases.
The State appellate courts- Oberlandesgericht are second instance courts and hear cases already heard at the first instance courts and appellate here. The cases related to the anti-constitutional activities and treason is also heard here for the first time.
The German Regional courts – Landesgericht are deciding in civil and criminal cases already heard at the local courts and courts of first instance courts.
The First Instance Courts- Amtsgericht is hearing matters related to small civil or criminal offences.
The Administrative Supreme Court- Bundesverwaltungsgericht is the highest instance in matters related to the administration. Besides the Administrative Supreme Court there are the Administrative Appellate Courts hearing cases already heard in the Administrative first instance courts and the Administrative Instance Courts which takes decision related to minor administrative cases.
The Federal Labor Court- Bundesarbeitsgericht) is considered the highest instance in cases related to the individual labor law and collective labor law.
The Federal Fiscal Court is the last instance in matters related to taxes and customs matters.
The Federal Social Court-Bundessozialgericht is the last instance for social security cases, such as the long-term care insurance, occupational accident insurance schemes and public health and pension insurance. It hears cases already presented in front of the Social courts.
What are the responsibilities of the Arbitration Court in Germany?
The Arbitration courts nominated by the parties which have signed an arbitration agreement, according to which certain conflicts can be heard by an arbitrator, can hear only the matters stipulated by these agreements. The matters are usually concerning small business conflicts, which can be resolved in an amiable process.
How long does Litigation in Germany take?
The duration of litigation in Germany depends on many factors, such as the subject of the trial or if there are any appeals raised against the initial decision. The clear separation of the jurisdictions is guaranteeing that the process is not slow down by not knowing to which court the parties must address. There is also a possibility to resolve the small issues in front of an arbitration court.