Federal Court of Justice
|position||Federal Supreme Court|
|Supervisory body (s)||Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection|
|Consist||since October 1, 1950|
|Headquarters||Karlsruhe , Baden-Württemberg ( GVG )|
|management||Bettina Limperg , President of the Federal Court of Justice|
The Federal Court of Justice ( BGH ) in Karlsruhe is the highest court of the Federal Republic of Germany in the field of ordinary jurisdiction and thus the last instance in civil and criminal proceedings . He is also responsible for related specialist areas of law, such as professional law in the administration of justice. The BGH should uphold legal unity and develop the law, but above all review the decisions of the courts subordinate to it. It is next to the Federal Labor Court , Federal Fiscal , Federal Social Court and Federal Administrative Court of the five supreme courts of the Federation ( para. 1 GG ) and next to the Federal Constitutional Court is one of two federal courts based in Karlsruhe, with two divisions of the Supreme Court are located in Leipzig.
Mainly, the Supreme Court decides on revisions against judgments of the District Courts and Courts of Appeal as well as legal complaints against the decisions of these courts. Like every appeal court, it does not collect any evidence - unlike a court of appeal - but only decides whether the judgment of the regional or higher regional court is based on legal errors.
In its capacity as an authority , the Federal Court of Justice - like the Federal Fiscal Court and the Federal Administrative Court - is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) and is subject to its official supervision while maintaining judicial independence .
Foundation and seat
The Federal Court of Justice was founded on October 1, 1950 and has had its headquarters in Karlsruhe since then . The previous institution in the British zone of occupation was the Supreme Court for the British Zone with its seat in Cologne, which was dissolved at the end of September 1950. The 5th Criminal Senate of the BGH, on the other hand, was based in Berlin to maintain the "grown connections between West Berlin and the Federal Republic" and moved to the Villa Sack in Leipzig in 1997 by order of the Federal Minister of Justice . Originally, after the reunification of Germany, the entire BGH was supposed to move into the historic imperial court building in Leipzig, but this proposal could not be politically implemented, especially against the will of the judges. In accordance with the recommendation of the Federalism Commission of 1992, which the Bundestag took note of by resolution, Leipzig therefore only received the 5th Criminal Senate. On August 22, 2002, the Federal Administrative Court, which had also been based in Berlin, moved into the Reichsgericht building. In addition, the recommendation of the Federalism Commission provides that for every civil senate newly established at the BGH, another criminal senate should move to Leipzig, which is known as the "slip clause". However, since then there has not been the establishment of new senates, but only the temporary establishment of two auxiliary senates ( see Arbitration Body ) and an increase in the number of senates. The Justice Minister of Saxony criticized this practice in 2017. In the case of the establishment of two new senates ( see Arbitration Body) approved by the budget committee of the German Bundestag in November 2018, it is planned to take into account the "slip clause" insofar as the new civil senate is to be located in Karlsruhe and the new criminal senate in Leipzig.
The judges of the BGH are divided into senates , each with a chairman and six to eight other members. Not all members are involved in the individual decisions of the Senate, but the judges work in so-called seating groups. In accordance with (1 ) of the Courts Constitution Act (GVG), these consist of the chairman and four assessors from among the other members, so that a senate, as a panel, generally decides on the composition of five members. The number of senates is determined by the Federal Minister of Justice in accordance with GVG and has increased several times since the BGH was founded. Since 1990 there have been twelve civil senates , numbered consecutively with Roman numerals, and five criminal senates , consecutively numbered with Arabic numerals. In addition, from 2003 to 2004 there was an auxiliary senate ( IXa civil senate ) to temporarily relieve the IX. Civil Senate and from 2009 to 2010 another auxiliary Senate ( Xa Civil Senate ) to temporarily relieve the X. Civil Senate. On November 8, 2018, the budget committee of the German Bundestag decided to provide funds for the establishment of two new senates at the Federal Court of Justice, which could be set up in the course of 2019, subject to implementation in the Bundestag. A sixth criminal senate located in Leipzig and a thirteenth civil senate located at the headquarters in Karlsruhe are planned.
There are also eight special senates. Six of them are concerned with the professional law in the administration of justice, namely the service court of the Federation (which is responsible for serving legal process of judges and members of the Federal Court), the Senate for notary matters , the Senate for Attorney things , the Senate for Patent Attorney matters , the Senate for Wirtschaftsprüfer Matters and the Senate for tax advisor and tax agent matters. The other two are the Cartel Senate and the Senate for Agricultural Matters . The judges belong to the special senates in addition to their work in one of the civil or criminal senates, since the special senates only meet occasionally. Apart from the cartel senate, which, like the civil and criminal senates, is made up of five professional judges, the special senates, made up of three professional judges and two honorary judges from the respective professional group, make decisions in the case of the federal service court with two (professional ) Judge of the court of the person concerned can act.
As in other criminal courts, special investigating judges, the number of whom is determined by the Federal Minister of Justice ( GVG), are appointed to make decisions about investigative requests by the Attorney General in criminal proceedings (e.g. house search, seizure, arrest warrant ). This activity also takes place in addition to that in one of the criminal or civil senates. Until 2016 there were always six regular investigative judges for many years, who only devoted a relatively small part of their deputation to these tasks. In 2017, this was changed to the effect that two scheduled investigative judges, who devote a greater part of their deputation to this task, and four representatives have been appointed. In certain cases ( (5 ) StPO ), the decisions of the investigating judges can be challenged by means of a complaint , which is decided by a criminal panel of the Federal Court of Justice (minor devolving effect ), which, as an exception, only has three judges in accordance with (2) GVG.
The distribution of each process to the various Senate is in the schedule of regulated the court. The principle of the legal judge requires that it is determined from the outset according to abstract, general criteria which Senate and which composition is responsible for a case before the Federal Court of Justice becomes responsible for a legal matter. This is to avoid manipulation.
The business distribution plan of the Federal Court of Justice regulates the jurisdiction of the senates in civil matters according to the legal matter concerned, in criminal matters usually according to which court issued the challenged decision. In addition, special responsibilities are assigned to the first, third and fourth criminal panels in particular. The complete schedule of responsibilities is available for download on the website of the Federal Court of Justice. At the moment (business distribution 2019) the following responsibilities exist:
|1. Criminal Senate :||Districts of the higher regional courts in Munich , Stuttgart , Karlsruhe , military criminal cases and offenses against national defense as well as tax and customs criminal matters|
|2. Criminal Senate :||Districts of the higher regional courts Frankfurt am Main , Jena and Cologne as well as other decisions without special allocation|
|3. Criminal Senate :||Districts of the higher regional courts of Düsseldorf , Oldenburg and Koblenz as well as state security matters|
|4. Criminal Senate :||Districts of the higher regional courts Hamm and Zweibrücken as well as traffic offenses|
|5. Criminal Senate :||District of the Kammergericht (Berlin) and districts of the higher regional courts of Bremen , Dresden , Hamburg , Saarbrücken and Schleswig|
|6. Criminal Senate :||Districts of the higher regional courts of Bamberg , Nuremberg , Rostock , Celle , Naumburg , Brandenburg and Braunschweig ,|
|Cartel panel : Appeals against decisions of the cartel panels of the higher regional courts and other legal competences|
|Federal service court : tasks assigned according to the German Judges Act and the Federal Audit Office Act|
|Senate for Notary Matters : Tasks assigned according to the Federal Notary Code|
|Senate for Legal Matters : Tasks assigned according to the Federal Lawyers' Act|
|Senate for patent attorney matters : tasks assigned according to the patent attorney regulations|
|Senate for Agricultural Matters : Agricultural matters under the Act on Judicial Proceedings in Agricultural Matters|
|Senate for Auditing Matters : Tasks assigned according to the auditor regulations|
|Senate for tax consultant and tax agent matters : Tasks assigned according to the tax consultancy law|
History of business distribution
The areas of responsibility of the senates have changed many times since the establishment of the BGH, for example to take account of the increasing importance of certain legal areas and to achieve a balanced workload for the senates. This can be shown particularly clearly using the example of the regional jurisdiction of the five criminal senates for the higher regional court districts for the period from 1990:
Until reunification , the 5th Criminal Senate had its seat in West Berlin, but was always also responsible for other West German higher regional courts. In the course of reunification, the Senate was relocated to Leipzig, but has retained responsibility for the (then enlarged) State of Berlin to this day.
In the first few years after reunification, the district courts of the GDR continued to exist in the new states . Each criminal division was assigned responsibility for the district courts in one of the five states (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to the 1st criminal division, Thuringia to the 2nd criminal division, Saxony to the 3rd criminal division, Saxony-Anhalt to the 4th criminal division and Brandenburg to the 5th criminal division). The higher regional courts of Jena, Naumburg, Rostock, Brandenburg and Dresden were only established in 1993 and 1994.
Even after reunification, individual higher regional courts were occasionally placed under the jurisdiction of another criminal division.
In 1991 the OLG Oldenburg moved from the 5th to the 3rd criminal senate (Fig. 2) and in 1993 the OLG Rostock with its establishment from the 1st to the 4th criminal senate (Fig. 3).
In 1998 the OLGs Celle and Dresden exchanged the senates, i. H. from 1998 Celle was assigned to the 3rd criminal senate and Dresden to the 5th criminal senate (Fig. 4).
In 2010 the responsibility for the OLG Schleswig changed from the 3rd to the 5th criminal division (Fig. 5) and in 2012 the responsibility for the OLG Rostock from the 4th to the 3rd criminal division and for the OLG Saarbrücken from the 4th to the 5th criminal division ( Picture 6).
In 2014, the southern regional courts of the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court were assigned to the 4th Criminal Senate. Furthermore, the competence of the Higher Regional Court Koblenz changed from the 2nd to the 3rd criminal senate (Fig. 7).
In 2015, the jurisdiction of the Rostock Higher Regional Court was changed for the third time: now for the 2nd criminal senate (Fig. 8).
From September 2019, the southern district court districts of the OLG Karlsruhe were reassigned to the 1st criminal division.
With the re-establishment of the 6th criminal division of the Federal Court of Justice in February 2020, the OLG districts Bamberg and Nuremberg (from the 1st criminal division), Rostock (from the 2nd criminal division), Celle (from the 3rd criminal division), Naumburg (from the 4th criminal division) ) and Brandenburg and Braunschweig (from the 5th Criminal Senate).
If a case has been assigned to the competent senate through the division of responsibilities of the court, the division of responsibilities within the senate to be resolved by the judges of the respective senate in accordance with reporter is, processed the files and prepared the case. The chairman does not act as a reporter, but rather reads the files of all cases assigned to the Senate in addition to the respective reporter ( four-eyes principle ).GVG before the beginning of the financial year then determines the staffing of the case and which judge is the
The Senate meets at regular intervals for advice, which is prepared in civil matters by means of "votes" ( expert statements and decision proposals ) by the respective reporters. In criminal cases, on the other hand, during the deliberations of each judge, the cases assigned to him as rapporteur are orally summarized and the legal problems highlighted. The case will then be discussed together. Under certain conditions, which are described in the section Procedure , the Senate can decide on the basis of the deliberation result by written resolution without a hearing taking place. Otherwise, a hearing will be scheduled, which is generally public. A hearing in revision matters corresponds to a conversation between the judges and the parties to the proceedings about the question of whether the judgment under appeal is based on errors of law. In the subsequent deliberation on the judgment, if there is no agreement, a decision is brought about by vote, with each of the five judges having one vote. The decision is then announced as a judgment .
In accordance with Sections 133 and 135 of the Courts Constitution Act (GVG), the Federal Court of Justice mainly acts as a court of appeal . In addition, the BGH decides in civil matters on jump appeals , legal complaints and jump right complaints ( GVG) as well as in criminal matters on complaints against decisions and orders of the higher regional courts and complaints against orders of the investigating judges of the BGH ( GVG). Additional procedures are assigned to him by special provisions in other laws.
In 2014, the BGH had to deal with 4,158 appeals in civil matters, including complaints of non-admission, 1,544 legal complaints and similar proceedings, and 528 other legal cases. In criminal cases, there were 2,976 appeals for the senates, including submission cases and 436 other legal cases, for the investigating judges 1,247 cases.
Revision in criminal matters
The appeal in criminal cases to the BGH takes place against the judgments of the regional courts ( large criminal chambers ) and the higher regional courts (in state security matters according to GVG) in the first instance . It can be filed by the defendant as well as by the public prosecutor's office or the accessory prosecution . If, on the basis of its deliberations, the Senate considers the revision to be inadmissible ( (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure ) or the Federal Public Prosecutor's motion unanimously to be obviously unfounded (Section 349 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure) or if it unanimously considers an appeal filed in favor of the accused to be justified (Section 349 para. 4 StPO), he can decide by resolution. In the remaining cases (approx. 5% of the revisions) a decision is made based on a main hearing (Section 349 (5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
In the main hearing before the Federal Court of Justice, the public prosecutor's office is represented by a representative of the Federal Public Prosecutor General , and the defendant by his defense counsel, if he has one. The accused may, if he can, attend the hearing in person, but he has no right to do so. In particular, he has no right to be transferred to the hearing if he is in custody ( (2) StPO). This is justified by the fact that the hearing serves to discuss legal issues (no taking of evidence) and thus the defense counsel's right to be present is sufficient to safeguard the interests of the accused. In practice, the accused very rarely takes part in the trial. According to Code of Criminal Procedure, the main hearing begins with the reporter's presentation. This is followed by the presentation of the party who has appealed. This is followed by the remarks on the other side. If the defendant is present, he has the last word.
If the BGH considers an appeal to be justified, the contested judgment will be overturned (StPO). The BGH can then only decide on the matter itself if no further factual findings are required and no new sentence is to be carried out. According to Code of Criminal Procedure, this is the case, among other things, if, in the opinion of the BGH, the accused is to be acquitted for legal reasons, the proceedings are to be discontinued or if the minimum sentence can be recognized in accordance with the prosecution's request. The BGH can also correct errors in the sentence itself. If the prerequisites for the BGH's own decision are not met, especially if further factual findings are required, it refers the matter back to another panel of the court, whose judgment was overturned, for renewed hearing and decision.
Revision and legal complaint in civil matters
The appeal in civil matters to the BGH usually takes place against the final judgments of the regional and higher regional courts issued in the appeal instance. It is only possible if it has been approved by the Court of Appeal or the Federal Court of Justice subsequently declares it admissible on the basis of a non-approval complaint ( (1) of the Code of Civil Procedure ). The revision is permitted if the legal matter is of fundamental importance or if a decision by the Federal Court of Justice is required to develop the law or to ensure uniform jurisdiction (Section 543 (2) ZPO). If the Senate considers a revision to be inadmissible, it rejects it, which can be done by resolution ( ZPO). If, in the unanimous opinion of the Senate, the prerequisites for the approval of the appeal by the appellate court are not met and, moreover, no chances of success are apparent, the appeal is rejected by resolution ( ZPO). In the majority of the proceedings, however, the Senate makes a decision based on an oral hearing ( ZPO).
In civil matters, the parties must be represented by a lawyer approved by the BGH (see section Lawyers ). If a revision is successful, the judgment under appeal is set aside. If the facts have been established without legal errors and the matter is then ripe for a decision, the BGH will decide on it itself ( (3) ZPO). Otherwise, he refers the matter back to the court of appeal for renewed hearing and decision (Section 563 (1) ZPO).
In family matters , on September 1, 2009, the appeal was replaced by the appeal on points of law , which is generally only possible with approval by the lower court. A legal complaint is dealt with in a similar way to a revision (cf. ZPO), but a decision is made on it in accordance with § 577 Paragraph 6 ZPO. In areas other than family law, too, objections to certain types of decisions are not made through revision, but through legal complaints, for example objections to ancillary decisions and decisions in ancillary proceedings such as foreclosure , insolvency and cost matters.
In accordance with large senate for civil matters and a large senate for criminal matters have been set up at the Federal Court of Justice , which together form the United Large Senates. Pursuant to Section 132 (5) of the GVG, the Grand Senate for civil matters consists of the President and one member each of the civil senates, the Grand Senate for criminal matters consists of the President and two members each of the criminal senates. The members of the large senates are determined by the Presidium (Section 132 (6) GVG). Often the Senate Chairs are also representatives of their Senate in the Grand Senate.(1) GVG, a
If a Senate wishes to deviate from the decision of another Senate on a legal issue, which the other Senate adheres to on request, the matter must be submitted to the Grand Senate in accordance with Section 132 (2) and (3) GVG, which then makes a binding decision on the legal issue (Abs. 1 GVG). If a civil senate wants to deviate from another civil senate, the Grand Senate for civil matters must be called, in the event of deviations between criminal senates the Grand Senate for criminal matters. If, on the other hand, a civil senate wants to deviate from a criminal senate or vice versa, the United Grand Senates decide. Furthermore, a Senate can submit a question of fundamental importance to the Grand Senate for a decision if it is of the opinion that this is necessary to further develop the law or to ensure uniform jurisdiction (Section 132 (4) GVG).
The Grand Senate only decides on legal issues, but the submitting Senate is bound to the decision of the Grand Senate on the legal issue in its subsequent substantive decision (Section 138 (1) sentence 3 GVG). Since the major senates only rule on legal issues, they can decide without an oral hearing (Section 138 (1) sentence 2 GVG), whereby the Federal Prosecutor can always be heard in criminal matters, which can also be done during the consultation (Section 138 (2) GVG). In the event of a disagreement, decisions are brought about by vote, with each judge having one vote; in the event of a tie, the chairman, i.e. the president, has the casting vote (Section 132 (6) sentence 3 GVG).
Relationship to other courts
As the highest court of ordinary jurisdiction, the Federal Court of Justice has jurisdiction over the local , regional and higher regional courts of the federal states. In principle, there is no longer any legal remedy against his decisions ; they become final when they are announced . - Admittedly, including decisions of the Supreme Court - as against every act of German public violence constitutional complaint before the Federal Constitutional Court are inserted, but is this not a complete review of the decision of the Supreme Court, but rather merely a review of the standard of constitutional law. Possible violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by decisions of the BGH - just like any other court of last instance - can be asserted before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg , but usually only after exhaustion of the constitutional complaint. So far it has not been conclusively clarified what binding effect the judgments of the ECHR have in Germany .
The BGH has the same rank as the other highest federal courts , so it cannot disregard their legal opinions. According to Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law, the joint senate of the highest federal courts is responsible for deciding legal questions in the event of differing legal opinions between the Federal Court of Justice and another supreme court of the Federation .
Has the Federal law of the European Union to apply, it is in accordance with TFEU as the last domestic instance principle obliged, even unresolved legal question in advance as part of a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg submit its reply to the legal question for the Supreme Court is binding in its subsequent substantive decision.
The jurisprudence of the BGH is also important for Austrian jurisprudence: in the area of commercial law , which is mainly regulated by the German Commercial Code introduced in Austria in 1938 , the courts prefer to orientate themselves on the decisions of the BGH in interpretation cases. The Austrian Commercial Code was indeed part of a comprehensive amendment to the January 1, 2007 Unternehmensgesetzbuch renamed, however, continue to correspond in many areas with the German Commercial Code.
The Federal Court of Justice has (as of 2012) 404.5 posts. 129 of these are judges, 48 scientific staff, 106.5 civil servants, 116 collective bargaining workers and 5 trainees. Since some people work part-time, the actual number of employees is slightly higher - in 2012 it was 406 people.
At the head of the court is the president ( superior of all employees. As President of a Federal Supreme Court , he is classified in grade R 10 . In accordance with GVG, he is officially chairman of the Presidium of the BGH , which also includes ten elected judges and which, in accordance with (1) of the GVG, is responsible for filling the Senate and distributing business. As a rule, the president does not belong to any of the civil or criminal panels, but is often a member of the cartel panel . By virtue of the law ( (6) sentence 3 GVG), he also chairs the Grand Senates, where his vote is decisive in the event of a tie. Also by law, he is the chairman of the Senate for Legal Matters ( (2) BRAO). Bettina Limperg has been the ninth President of the BGH since July 1, 2014 ; she is the first woman in this office. The following is a list of all previous presidents of the Federal Court of Justice:GVG). He is the
|No.||Surname||Beginning of the term of office||Term expires|
|1||Hermann Weinkauff (1894–1981)||October 1, 1950||March 31, 1960|
|2||Bruno Heusinger (1900–1987)||April 1, 1960||March 31, 1968|
|3||Robert Fischer (1911-1983)||April 1, 1968||September 30, 1977|
|4th||Gerd Pfeiffer (1919-2007)||1st October 1977||December 31, 1987|
|5||Walter Odersky (* 1931)||January 1, 1988||July 31, 1996|
|6th||Karlmann Geiß (* 1935)||August 1, 1996||May 31, 2000|
|7th||Günter Hirsch (* 1943)||July 15, 2000||January 31, 2008|
|8th||Klaus Tolksdorf (* 1948)||February 1, 2008||January 31, 2014|
|9||Bettina Limperg (* 1960)||July 1, 2014|
The Vice President of the Federal Court of Justice is the permanent representative of the President. He is also the presiding judge of one of the Senates of the BGH and as such is classified in grade R 8 . Until 1968, the position of Vice President was not filled or not planned independently. During this time, the permanent representative of the President was the longest-serving Senate Chairman (then called Senate President) in accordance with Section 5 of the Rules of Procedure of the Federal Court of Justice. The position was formally filled later. The position of Vice President was vacant from August 1, 2015 to December 2, 2016. Since then Jürgen Ellenberger has been Vice President of the Federal Court of Justice. The following is a list of all Vice Presidents of the Federal Court of Justice by virtue of appointment:
|Surname||Beginning of the term of office||Term expires|
|Roderich Glanzmann (1904–1988)||1968||April 30, 1972|
|Fritz Hauß (1908-2003)||May 23, 1972||October 31, 1976|
|Gerd Pfeiffer (1919-2007)||3rd November 1976||September 30, 1977|
|Walter Stimpel (1917-2008)||1st October 1977||November 30, 1985|
|Ludwig Thumm (1920–2011)||2nd December 1985||April 30, 1988|
|Hannskarl Salger (1929-2010)||May 1, 1988||November 30, 1994|
|Horst Hagen (1934-2019)||December 1, 1994||February 28, 1999|
|Burkhard Jähnke (* 1937)||March 1, 1999||May 31, 2002|
|Joachim Wenzel (1940-2009)||April 1, 2002||June 30, 2005|
|Gerda Müller (* 1944)||July 1, 2005||June 30, 2009|
|Wolfgang Schlick (* 1950)||July 1, 2009||July 31, 2015|
|Jürgen Ellenberger (* 1960)||2nd December 2016|
Judges and presiding judges
The judges at the Federal Court of Justice have a special responsibility due to the tasks assigned to them. The case law in the Federal Republic of Germany can be significantly influenced by the choice of judges . It is therefore carried out by a judges' election committee ( (1) of the GVG), to which the justice ministers of the federal states and 16 members elected by the Bundestag belong. Candidates can be proposed by the Federal Minister of Justice and the members of the Judges 'Election Committee in accordance with Judges' Election Act (RiWG). Only those who have German citizenship and have reached the age of 35 can be elected (Section 125 (2) GVG). Through its Presidential Council, the Federal Court of Justice issues an opinion on the personal and professional suitability of the nominees, which, however, is not binding on the judges' selection committee. The judges' selection committee decides in a secret ballot with a majority of the votes cast ( RiWG). After their election, the judges are appointed by the Federal President.
The judges at the Federal Court of Justice are in principle full-time professional judges . Only in the decisions of the special senate on professional law are three professional judges, two honorary judges from the respective professional branch, deployed. As federal judges at one of the highest federal courts, the professional judges are classified in grade R 6 , presiding judges in grade R 8; in addition, they all receive a federal allowance. The currently 129 judges and presiding judges exercise their office like all judges independently ( Paragraph 1, Basic Law) and are appointed for life ( Paragraph 2, Sentence 2, Basic Law), so they can only do so before reaching retirement age serious violations are removed from office. The service court of the federal government is set up as one of the special senates at the Federal Court of Justice itself, so it would ultimately have to decide on disciplinary measures against colleagues up to and including removal from office in accordance with DRiG.
The proportion of women among the judges at the Federal Court of Justice is currently (as of 2015) with 36 out of 130 people (including the President) 28 percent. It has risen sharply compared to 2012, when it was exactly 20 percent with 26 out of 130 people. Compared with the other highest federal courts, the BGH has a higher proportion of women than the Federal Fiscal Court (22%) or the Federal Social Court (26%) and an equally high proportion as the Federal Administrative Court (28%); only the Federal Labor Court has a higher proportion (40%).
The BGH always employs around 50 research assistants , officially “research assistants” ( (1) GVG ), internally mostly called “student assistants”. The academic staff must be qualified to hold judicial office and are mostly judges at the local, regional, higher regional or federal patent courts or public prosecutors. They are seconded to the BGH for three years and assigned to a senate. There they are supposed to support the judges in their legal work through preparatory work, in particular through research, votes and draft decisions. As a rule, each civil division has three and each criminal division two research assistants.
The approximately 240 other employees of the BGH are partly assigned to the individual senates, such as the offices and typists, or they perform the numerous general administrative tasks that exist at the court, such as library management, public relations, security, post office or technical services.
In principle (apart from patent nullity proceedings), only specially approved lawyers can appear before the Federal Court of Justice . Approval is granted in accordance with Federal Lawyers' Act (BRAO) by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection . Only those who have reached the age of 35, have practiced the legal profession for at least five years without interruption and are nominated by the election committee for lawyers at the Federal Court of Justice can be admitted ( BRAO). The election committee consists of the president and the chairmen of the senate of the civil senates of the Federal Court of Justice as well as of the members of the Presidium of the Federal Bar Association and the Presidium of the Bar Association at the Federal Court of Justice ( BRAO). The lawyers admitted to the Federal Court of Justice are compulsory members of the Bar Association at the Federal Court of Justice and are only admitted there ( singular admission ). They are all based in the city or district of Karlsruhe. Currently (as of 2015) 46 lawyers are admitted to the BGH. The criteria for the selection are “well above average knowledge and skills, forensic experience and the ability to work in a practical scientific manner”. The last election was in 2013.
The admission restriction is justified with the requirement of increased audit expertise. Whether it is compatible with the constitution (in particular Federal Constitutional Court with a chamber decision of February 27, 2008, but the court stated in the decision that GG was not violated.Basic Law) has been discussed over and over again for years. The BGH affirmed this with a decision of December 5, 2006. The constitutional complaint lodged against this was not accepted for decision by the
In criminal cases, however, any defense lawyer can appear before the BGH.
In proceedings under the Federal Restitution Act , there is no compulsory lawyer ( (3) AufÜblG), so that any person can appear before the BGH.
The court plays a pioneering role in electronic legal transactions. Together with the Federal Patent Court, the BGH played a major role in the development of XJustiz , which is intended to create nationwide uniform standards for the exchange of electronic information. Since 2001, lawyers admitted to the Federal Court of Justice in civil matters have had the option of submitting written pleadings in electronic form. In criminal matters, the Federal Prosecutor General has had the option of submitting written pleadings in appeal proceedings electronically since 2006. Since 2007, the technical requirements and the permissible document formats for electronic entries have been derived from the ordinance on electronic legal transactions at the Federal Court of Justice and the Federal Patent Court (BGH / BPatGERVV) . The electronic entries are made via an electronic mailbox, for which the BGH has been using the electronic court and administrative mailbox since 2010, in which many German courts are now involved.
Building history and use of the building
Since its inception, the Federal Court of Justice has been located on the approximately four hectare site of the former Hereditary Grand Ducal Palace , which is located in the south-west of Karlsruhe city center between Kriegs-, Herren-, Blumen- and Ritterstraße. The buildings are grouped around a central lawn, which is adorned by a Galatea fountain. From the original development, the palace itself still exists on the south side of the property and the former gardener's house (now called the "Weinbrenner building") on the north-west side. The Hereditary Grand Ducal Palace today houses the President and the administration of the BGH as well as some civil senates and their meeting rooms.
As early as the 1950s, the first renovation and extension work was carried out in order to meet the growing space requirements of the court. From 1958 to 1960, the west building was built along Herrenstrasse and a tap-proof conference room for the criminal senates connected to it to the south. In the west building are now the four Karlsruhe-based criminal panels, the investigative judges of the Federal Court of Justice, some civil panels and the court's casino (upscale canteen). A north building was also erected between 1958 and 1960, which among other things offered space for the federal prosecutor's office .
Until 1978 the area of the Federal Court of Justice was freely accessible to the population. However, after the murder of Attorney General Siegfried Buback and a failed rocket attack by the RAF , the entire facility was surrounded by a video-monitored double fence. A control building with an entrance sluice between the west building and the Weinbrenner building was built as the main entrance.
As early as the 1970s, various concepts for extension buildings had been under discussion, as the court's space requirements rose steadily as the workload increased and additional buildings had to be rented in the Karlsruhe city center in the meantime. Finally, it was decided to outsource the federal prosecutor's office from the site. In 1998 she moved into her new office in Brauerstraße, clearing the way for modernization and expansion of the north building. In addition, after reunification, the initially formally only provisional office in Karlsruhe was finally declared the seat of the Federal Court of Justice, so that the urgently needed expansion could no longer be refused with reference to the provisional status. After the old north building was torn down, a U-shaped building was built on the north half of the BGH site from 2000 to 2003, which is open to the central park and today houses several civil senates and their conference rooms, the library of the Federal Court of Justice and the Karlsruhe Museum of Legal History .
In 2011, the control building, which was in need of renovation and considered too negative, was demolished and then replaced by a new reception building. On the upper floor there is also a new, large conference room for the criminal senate, which was first used by the 1st criminal senate on March 6, 2012 and was officially inaugurated on April 18, 2012. Negotiating visitors no longer have to be directed from the main entrance to the old meeting room, but go through the control on the ground floor of the reception building and from there go directly to the upper floor of the new meeting room. This includes 120 seats.
The library of the Federal Court of Justice has a collection of around 440,000 printed works and around 20,000 other media units, making it the largest court library in Germany. After the reunification, the holdings of the library of the Supreme Court of the GDR were transferred to her, including many historically valuable works from the library of the Reichsgericht. The library of the Federal Court of Justice records the relevant legal literature almost completely from 1800 to 1970 and has since then placed the focus on civil and criminal law literature when procuring media units, in line with the activities of the Federal Court of Justice. The annual expenditure for new acquisitions is around 1,000,000 euros.
With the move to the redesigned north building in 2003, the library was given representative rooms for the first time with 21.5 km of book storage facilities and modern workplaces. It is primarily used by the judges of the Federal Court of Justice and their academic staff, the lawyers approved by the BGH and accredited press representatives and the employees of the Federal Prosecutor's Office and is active for them, for example in the procurement of required media. However, it is also accessible to external users during general office hours, of which almost 3,000 people use it every year.
Publication of the decisions
The Federal Court of Justice has published the decisions it has made since January 1, 2000 in electronic form on its website, where they can be accessed free of charge. Personal data is always anonymized before it is published. Since 2011, the BGH, in cooperation with Saarland University, has also offered the option of notification by email for selected decisions as soon as the full text of the decision is available on the website of the Federal Court of Justice. The complete collection of decisions of the BGH is not published in printed form, but only archived at the BGH. Decisions issued before January 1, 2000 can be requested from the Federal Court of Justice for a copy fee; they are also anonymized before being sent. In 2014, too, the dispatch of decisions received over 1,400 inquiries.
In addition, the BGH has been involved in the electronic legal information system " juris " since 1980 . For this purpose, the documentation office of the Federal Court of Justice evaluates the decisions of all instances in the field of ordinary jurisdiction as well as around 220 specialist journals and puts over 50,000 decisions, references and comments in the database every year. The decisions of the BGH have been essentially completely recorded there since around 1984, before that there were gaps. However, access to “juris” is chargeable. Most of the published decisions of the BGH can also be found in Beck-Online's electronic database, which is subject to a charge .
The decision collections BGHZ and BGHSt are published by the judges of the Federal Court of Justice and the members of the Federal Prosecutor's Office . The volumes, which appear in printed form approximately every six months or annually, contain a selection of the most important current decisions in the opinion of the BGH. They are primarily cited by the Federal Court of Justice and can be found in almost every German court library, but in the strict sense they are not an official collection. The BGHR decision collection , which was previously also published in printed form , is a collection of important BGH decisions sorted by paragraphs, but is now only published digitally. The fortnightly magazine BGH-Report is devoted to the publication of BGH decisions - some with discussion . In addition, the leading legal journals regularly publish decisions of the Federal Court of Justice.
The press office of the BGH frequently publishes press releases on pending and past decisions as well as on personnel matters. You can also subscribe to these press releases as newsletters free of charge, which around 25,500 people are currently using.
If decisions are announced in an oral hearing, this announcement is usually public. Until 2018, as with every German court, apart from the Federal Constitutional Court, this only affected the public in the hall; Image and sound recordings for publication have been expressly regulated inGVG a. F. not allowed. With the Act on the Extension of Media Publicity in Court Proceedings, the possibility was created for all courts from April 2018 to record audiovisual proceedings of historical importance for the purpose of archiving ( (2) GVG new version). In addition, the Federal Court of Justice (as well as the other highest federal courts) was given the opportunity to allow sound and image recordings for the purpose of publication when decisions are announced “in special cases” ( (3) GVG new version ).
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