Civil law litigation is initiated in first instance courts - either the Amtsgericht (district court) or the Landgericht (regional court), the next step is either the Landgericht or the Oberlandesgericht/in Berlin: Kammergericht (higher regional court). In disputes where the amount at stake is less than € 10,000 (in the Amtsgericht) you do not necessarily need a lawyer to run the case. In any case before the Landgericht (disputes more than € 10,000) one must be represented by a lawyer admitted in Germany. Appeals can be forwarded to the Oberlandesgericht if the amount in dispute exceeds € 1,500. If the amount in dispute is over DM65,000, an application for revision can be made to the Bundesgerichtshof.
There are specific civil courts dealing with family law (Familiengerichte) Æ and labour law (Arbeitsgerichte). In such cases the Oberlandesgerichte and Landesarbeitsgerichte act as courts of appeal. In divorce cases at least one party does need to be represented by a lawyer, though couples can agree on details concerning their divorce before involving the courts.
Mahnverfahren (debt recovery actions) are always initiated at the Amtsgericht. Forms for lodging debt recovery applications can be obtained from stationery supply stores.
Administrative law includes tax law, social law, construction law etc. and there are special procedures of objection to administrative directions.
When choosing legal counsel, keep these things in mind:
If you intend becoming a permanent resident, you might want to consider taking out some legal protection insurance covering most legal expenses up to a certain amount. Most major insurance companies offer this protection.
Most German lawyers speak at least passable English, many having studied in the USA or the UK. Those appearing here are Berlin lawyers who deal regularly with English speaking clients. Where specific practicioners in a firm specialize in dealing with English speakers, those persons' names appear at the end of the entry for the firm under the heading "Contact" .
Dr Astrid Auer
Specialist in Commercial & Civil Law
Martin & Martin
10711 Berlin - Wilmersdorf
Tel: 8969 0612, Fax: 8969 0620