Suing and being sued in Germany - an outline

If you would like to sue somebody or you are being sued in Germany, this overview of the legal proceedings should give you a broad idea of what to do and what to expect.


1) First Steps

 

a) You are suing someone

 

If you would like to sue somebody, you have to file a written complaint with the responsible court. The responsible court is usually the court where the defendant lives. With the complaint you have to pay the court fees in advance. The court fees are calculated upon the amount of money you are seeking by the complaint. The higher the sum, the higher the court fee is. For instance, in order to file a complaint for 5.000,- EUR a court fee of 438,- EUR has to be paid in advance, while for a claim of 1.000,- EUR the court fee is only 159,- EUR.

 

Especially if you think, that the defendant will not challenge your claim, then a much cheaper possibility is, to apply for a Mahnbescheid. For instance, the court fees for a Mahnbescheid over 1.000,- EUR are only 32 EUR.

 

b) You are being sued

 

If you are being sued, the most important rule is, to adhere to the deadlines, that are being set by the court. It is very possible to lose the case, simply due to missing deadlines.

 

If you have received a letter by a German court, usually in a yellow envelope with a date and a signature on the outside, and you feel you are wrongfully sued, it is time to act.

 

If you received a MAHNBESCHEID - which also comes in a yellow envelope and consists of one large sheet of paper and is a first step of a law suit - you have 14 days after you received the letter to object to the claim.

 

If you have received a VOLLSTRECKUNGSBESCHEID, which resembles the Mahnbescheid in appearance, you also have 14 days to object to it. If you miss the 14 day deadline after the Vollstreckungsbescheid, the case is very likely lost without the chance of an appeal.

 

The same 14 day deadline applies, if you have received a writ of summons served by a German court. If you would like to object to the claim, you need to present the facts in your favor to the court in a written answer. You can name witnesses and demand expert opinons to back your answer to a complaint.

 

2) Court hearing and language

 

After the parties have presented their facts, the court will summon a hearing. The first hearing is usually a settlement hearing, in which the judge will try to reach an agreement between the parties. If this fails, witnesses are heard (if necessary) and based on the facts presented by the parties the judge will come to a written judgement.

 

The language of the court is German. This means, that all written statements have to be filed in German and also the witnesses are questioned in German.

 

An interpreter will be present, if one party asks for this or the court finds it necessary.

 

3) Appeal

 

Both parties may appeal the judgement of a first level court, if the claim is more than 600,- EUR. If the claim is less than 600,- EUR, the decision by the first level court is final.

 

4) Costs and fees

 

For attorney's fees in court, please check my category fees.

 

In German private law, a "winner takes it all rule" applies in litigation. This means, that the person, that loses in court has to bear all the costs of a court case. This includes court fees, attorney's fees of both sides (as regulated by German law)  and costs for necessary experts or to reimburse witnesses. For that reason, it is often agreed in case of a settlement, that each side bears its own costs and that the court fees are split between the parties. In case of a settlement, the court fees are  reduced by 2/3, which means that if the court fees are split, each party only has to pay a 1/6 of the court fees.

 

You can reach me at  0631 - 84 27 759 or you can also write me an e-mail and I will respond within one day.  

 

If you do not live in Germany or not anymore, but still have a case in Germany pending or you have claims against a person or company in Germany, I can gladly assist you. Neither a plaintiff nor a defendant have to be necessarily present in Germany in a civil law suit. A lawyer can act as a proxy. I have and still represent clients that live abroad and all cases have been and are very well handled via phone and e-mail.

 

Dirk Polishuk

 

 Europaallee 10

67657 Kaiserslautern

 

Tel: 0631 / 84 27 759

Fax: 0631 / 27 75 73 009

 

E-Mail: kanzlei(at)polishuk.de

 

Kommentar schreiben

Kommentare: 2
  • #1

    Mauricio (Dienstag, 16 Mai 2017)

    Good morning.

    I'm writing these because I will like to know how I can proceed with a private company that did not follow or make what they said.

    Simple as these I have been here in Germany 6 months and I went to a driving school to do all the process to obtain my driving license from Germany. During the chat with one of the owners told me that everything (paper work, test etc..) can be done in one month maximum, and if I was in hurry I could pay 400 euros extras to be done everything in 1 week (paper work,test,etc..). Of course i decided to pay the normal fee and to do everyhting but after few weeks not receiveing any news form them I went to speak with and I could speak only with the recepcionist and When I said what I was told from one of the owner they were surprise becuase they did not know anything about that and I have already 2 months and nothing yet with my papers just yesterday I have my firts test for driving.

    Hapen also that in one moment they ask for personal documentation such as original driving licence from my country plus passport to send to the offices to make all the paper work... one week after they call me saying that they could not do nothing because I need to do it personal, and when I went to claim for the time wasting they said only sorry. I mean is there Job the shoul know what the need to do.

  • #2

    Dirk Polishuk (Samstag, 20 Mai 2017 16:43)

    Hello Mauricio,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    I am afraid, there is no viable claim for lost time or time wasting. There has to be a determinable monetary loss due to the contractual partner being at default with his/her contractual obligations.

    Sincerely

    Dirk Polishuk