Why the economy shies away from civil litigation

Trial files in the courtroom

The number of civil cases received has decreased significantly in all instances since 2004. Only last year did the trend turnaround.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin At the moment, the administrative courts in particular are groaning under the lawsuits against the corona measures that the federal and state governments have decided. The pandemic has so far had little impact on civil courts.

“But I do expect that certain types of disputes will still turn up in the courts,” said the President of the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court, Thomas Dickert, the Handelsblatt. These included proceedings for non-performing loans, rent arrears or vacation cancellations. “We don’t have to worry about running out of work right now,” says Dickert.

The president of the court keeps a close eye on the situation in the civil courts. Under his chairmanship, the presidents of the higher regional courts have been dealing with the “modernization of civil proceedings” for more than a year. First a thesis paper was created.

The comprehensive report is due to be completed in early December. But can digitization find its way into the code of civil procedure, which dates back to 1879? The corona crisis has shown that this is necessary. At least the courts could – if the technology was available – switch to video conferences.

But it is obvious that there are deficits: the number of civil cases has decreased significantly in all instances since 2004. Only last year did the trend turnaround. A good 350,000 new civil cases were pending in the regional courts, around five percent more than in the previous year. At the local courts, the number of entries also increased, but only by 0.4 percent. The main drivers for this are likely to be the diesel proceedings and the enforcement of passenger rights.

However, companies themselves are reluctant to go to German courts. This is also confirmed by the court figures from the Federal Statistical Office: the number of complaints filed by the Chambers of Commerce has halved over the past ten years.

Lawyers like Steffen Lorscheider from the Dortmund commercial law firm Spieker & Jaeger can quickly list reasons for this: “Companies perceive the proceedings to be too long, lack the professional expertise of the judges and consider the proceedings to be too complicated.”

“The civil process must become more flexible and faster”

Lorscheider remembers a procedure with English-language oil tanker charter contracts in which a lengthy expert opinion had to be obtained because of a short passage. Because only German is the language of the court, and the judge was only allowed to use this translation.

Or the court hearing in Munich on purchase price adjustment clauses, in which the judge did not even know the key figure “Ebitda”, ie the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. “The parties reached an out of court settlement within two weeks,” says Lorscheider.

The business attorney considers himself an advocate of the state process. He also knows the disadvantages of arbitration and mediation. “But the civil process must become more flexible and faster.”

This is where the President of the Court Dickert comes into play. For example, he and his colleagues suggest centralized online dishes. The accelerated process should run completely digitally, “prepared and processed by chatbots and intelligent forms,” ​​as Dickert explains.

The case material can therefore even be entered without a lawyer. If evidence is required, this would be carried out by video conference.

First of all, the online courts could be used in mass disputes between complaining consumers and defendant companies, for amounts in dispute of up to 5000 euros. An extension to other processes would be conceivable later.

Specialized chambers

The report also provides for “structured procedures” to be introduced in which the parties to the dispute present themselves online in tabular form, instead of repeatedly exchanging extensive briefs. “In the future, the fax must be abolished as a means of transmission,” it continues. The determination of costs in civil proceedings could in future be largely automated with artificial intelligence.

But Dickert also sees that specialized chambers should be set up for commercial matters, with commercial judges who come from the business world and are familiar with the matter. “This saves expert opinions and time,” he says. “And the judges could negotiate on an equal footing with the highly specialized lawyers.”

The way there seems to be a long way – even if the “civil case of the future” is now also on the agenda of the autumn conference of the justice ministers of the federal states in Bremen at the end of the week. “It is our aim that the proposals from judicial practice are set down in the next coalition agreement,” explains court president Dickert. “This is the only way there is a realistic chance that they will then be pushed and find themselves in the Federal Law Gazette in the foreseeable future.”

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Foto: Imago images/ZUMAPress

»Oczywiście« – »Of course« she will appeal against the lifting of her immunity, explains judge Beata Morawiec. Why didn’t she come to Warsaw on Monday for the decision of the “Disciplinary Chamber” of the Supreme Court? “Because this chamber is not a court. Apart from that, I had to judge in Kraków. But that doesn’t interest this house with its dubious status. “

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60th birthday: we need more Maxim Biller

Andrea Hanna Hünniger, journalist and writer:

EThere are few writers who are as generous as Maxim Biller. A few years ago I was lying desperately on my bed again, staring out the window. I was looking for a title for my first book. I had no idea, no idea. I phoned Maxim Biller. He gave me a couple of titles, one greater than the other. A suggested title was so amazing – I couldn’t believe a writer would give up such an idea.

Unfortunately I can’t name him here. Because two days later Maxim called again and said that he had offered the title – phew, that was now unfavorable – to another writer. He had taken him. And now the title has been awarded. I forgot the other titles, but it is quite possible that they have been around as books for a long time. That’s how he does it. He’s generous. And generous people sometimes give out even more than they have. I know a few stories like this about him.

If you read his books, you get exactly this generosity. His style, to draw from the full and beyond, his urge to give everything, even if not everyone wants it. Its abundance, which does not shrink from the very-nice-much.

Could he have done without the treacherous details in his later banned book “Esra”? For sure. Could he leave the obnoxious crying about “culture of prohibition”? Naturally. But why? He gives everything. Against purism, against minimalism. In his much-criticized “biography”, for example, he leaves no suggestive allusion, no possible play on words unsaid: everyone can choose afterwards what they can use from it.

Because that is literature: it gives us something that will accompany us forever, even though we hadn’t noticed the gap before. I pull Biller’s “The Second-Handed Jew” from the bookshelf as often as I usually do with the guidebook “Finally non-smoker”. His books are like huge buffets that nobody complains to just because they don’t like artichokes, for example.

Literature needs generous authors like Maxim Biller. Otherwise it is boring, boring, excruciating, and deficient. Like any diet. Cheers!

Angela Richter, theater director:

Max-im Bil-ler. Left – right – left – right. Easy. Hard. And tender. A name like a knockout box combination with a kiss.

I saw his name for the first time in the monthly magazine “Tempo”. A column called “Hundred Lines of Hate”. Even the title: absolutely irresistible. Back then, in the 80s and early 90s, it was a promise, a promise of uncensored thoughts and free speech, phrased as charmingly as possible.

Twitter & Facebook were still in the distant future, and I had no inkling of the ruin of these hateful empires, which now daily attack us with the vulgarity of our malice, and always in the name of freedom of expression. You have spoiled my joy in elegantly desperate hatred.

Personally, I only got to know Maxim at the end of the noughties when I was staging “The Esra Case” in Hamburg. Before I met him, dozens of German cultural workers warned me about the “dreaded stress biller”, as Rainald Goetz once called him. Which basically won me over to him even more.

I always met Maxim as charming, direct and extremely attentive. And not only that, I can even say that I owe a lot to Maxim that he probably doesn’t even know.

He was the first person to encourage me to write after I told him the story of the snake cemetery in my home village in Dalmatia in a café on Schönhauser Allee. Thank you.

“Esra” was my first gonzo play, which catapulted me straight out of the trap of parrot art in directing theater. I didn’t have to stage the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the 5000th time! Thank you, Maxim.

And thank you for sharing my immigrant loneliness with you in the darkest moments among Germans and even laughing about it.

Happy Birthday, dear Maxim, I look forward to your future books and to the next 60 years!

Oliver Polak, Stand-up-Comedian:

To celebrate Maxim Biller’s birthday, I’m sitting in his longing. In the “Schumann’s Tagesbar” in Munich. The sun shines through the huge glass window front, on the completely white clad waiters who are lined up behind the long marble counter. Here in the city where it all began for him.

Studied in Munich at the age of 18. Modern German literature, philosophy and history. With 22 Magister with Wolfgang Frühwald. Subject: the dark side of Thomas Mann.

And then journalism school. In 20 years in Munich he grew up as a writer for “Tempo”, “Spiegel”, “Zeit” and “Süddeutsche” to become one of the most important German writers of all time. His books have been published by the traditional Cologne publisher Kiepenheuer & Witsch for decades.

Today Maxim lives in Berlin. And there is hardly a day on which he does not talk about Munich. About the 80s, which resembled the Paris of the 60s, about “Schumann’s”, the orderly thing in this Bavarian city. Munich, the only place in the world that he names his hometown. In the last phone call he said when I told him that I was going to Munich. “I want to be there too. I love Charles Schumann. “

Maxim is a wonderful friend, an exemplary father, and he is more enlightened than any German cabaret artist ever was. Maxim really puts his finger in the wound, holds up the mirror to the people and is then often referred to as difficult afterwards. Only Maxim is not difficult. It is unpleasant, not because it would be unpleasant itself, but because it represents what is unpleasant for people. Difficult are those who cannot bear to reflect or to be reflected. English humor, he says, is when you laugh. And German humor, he continues, is when you are so small yourself that you put yourself above others.

The door opens, a tall older man, his hair neck-length, combed back in white, type Afghan hound, bell-bottoms, shirt, pinstripe jacket, slippers, comes in. He grabs “Le Monde”, sits down at the next table, and is served coffee without having ordered. Without ever having seen it, I know exactly who it is. Only through Maxim’s stories. It’s Charles Schumann. We start a conversation, he is brief and says decisively: “Please tell Maxim, he should finally come back to Munich!” Maxim, that’s exactly what I wish you.


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There was no immediate report of casualties or material damage from the earthquake.