Corona forces German courts into de facto lockdown for 2020
If you want to end a German legal dispute in the foreseeable future – settle!
If you have beef with a German business partner, do not count on any help from German civil or business courts during spring and summer 2020. While German civil courts are officially still open and working, oral hearings (mündliche Verhandlungen) are being postponed, stayed or outright cancelled.
In theory, pursuant to sec. 128a German Civil Procedure Rules (link to the English translation of the statute available here) German court hearings (mündliche Verhandlung) can be conducted via video conference (skype, zoom etc), but most German judges are sceptical and unfamiliar with these options. Pre Corona, this was simply not necessary and virtually no German civil or business court judge has felt a need to consider an online video conference hearing.
Without such oral hearings, the court cannot decide the case, unless the parties agree on settlement terms which will then be confirmed and sealed by the court.
Corona forces parties to settle unless they are prepared to wait 6-9 months
Therefore: Try hard to settle any legal disputes as soon as possible! Even after the factual lockdown has ended (whenever that may be), it will take the German civil and business courts many months to get a grip on their backlog of cases.
Another important aspect to consider: Due to the unavoidable recession in Germany and around the world, in Summer and Fall of 2020 many German defendants will be bankrupt.
Thus, even if you eventually win the case, it will not do you (or your client) any good because chances are you (your client) will not be able to enforce the claim against the (bankrupt) German defendant anymore. So, settle the dispute, cut your losses and run!
More information on litigation and legal fees in Germany is available in these posts:
For legal advice on German civil procedure and how to successfully litigate in Germany, contact the international litigation experts and trial lawyers of GrafLegal.
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