Federal Judge (Germany)

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As a federal judge is called in Germany , as well as in some other federally organized states , the judge in the federal civil service, in distinction to the judges in the service of the country .

Definition and usage

Federal judge was the official title of judge at the courts until 1972, sponsored by the federal government. Although the term is still common language in specialist circles and is used, for example, by the Federal Ministry of Justice in press releases, according to Section 19a of the German Judiciary Act (DRiG), the official title since then has been "Judge at the [name of the court]" (e.g. "Judge at the Federal Administrative Court" or "Presiding Judge at the Federal Court of Justice"). The DRiG uses the term “judge in federal service” as a generic term.

Analogous to the term judge in the federal service in the DRiG, the term federal judge in common parlance includes not only the judges at the highest courts of the federal government ( Federal Court of Justice , Federal Administrative Court , Federal Finance Court , Federal Labor Court and Federal Social Court ), but also those at the other federal courts (currently the Federal Patent Court , Troop Service Court North and Troop Service Court South , formerly some more). This corresponds to the conceptual understanding of Article 98 of the  Basic Law. In some cases, however, the term is more narrowly defined and only refers to the judges at the federal supreme courts. This corresponds to the conceptual  understanding on which Article 94 (1) of the Basic Law is based.

According to the conceptual logic (differentiation from judges in the state service), the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) also fall under the designation of federal judges , but this is not very linguistically used and as a legal definition of the term is controversial. According to Section 69 DRiG, the provisions on judges in the federal service only apply to constitutional judges insofar as they are compatible with the special status of the BVerfG as a constitutional body. Although they are sometimes referred to as federal judges in the literature , Article 94,  Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law states that the Federal Constitutional Court consists of “federal judges and other members”, so that it is more likely that the Basic Law does not include the judges of the BVerfG Federal judges count.

Legal status

The legal status of federal judges is regulated in the Basic Law and in the German Judges Act. In principle, as with all judges, the judicial independence  guaranteed by Art. 97, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law and the appointment for life (according to Art. 97,  Paragraph 2, Sentence 2 of the Basic Law until reaching retirement age). At the Federal Court of Justice, the federal service court has been set up as a special senate , which finally decides on disciplinary measures against judges in the federal service in accordance with Section 62 DRiG. According to Section 64  (2) DRiG, only reprimands, fines or removal from service can be imposed on a judge at a federal supreme court .

Election and appointment

The judges at the highest federal courts are elected by a judges' election committee ( Section 125 (1) of the Courts Constitution Act ), 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 Section 10 of the Judges' Election Act (RiWG). Instead of the requirement for a proposal, the Greens are calling for the federal judges' offices to tender. According to the intelligence- gathering initiative , the current electoral process "has hardly any clear selection criteria" and "the risk of a party selection is high."

Only those who have German citizenship and have reached the age of 35 can be elected (Section 125 (2) GVG). The respective Supreme Court issues an opinion on the personal and professional suitability of the nominees through its presidential council, which is not binding on the judges' selection committee. The judges' selection committee decides in a secret ballot with a majority of the votes cast ( § 12 RiWG).

After their election, the judges do not immediately hold the office they were supposed to hold, but must first be appointed by the Federal President. While the federal judges' elections are usually bundled once a year, the later appointment of the individual judges and thus their assumption of office take place at different times, namely only when a specific position has to be filled.


The salary of federal judges is based on the Federal Salary Act . Annex III assigns the individual offices to salary groups and Annex IV determines the current level of salary for the respective groups. The judges at the highest federal courts are in grade R 6 and currently receive (as of 2017) around € 9,589.49 per month, the chairmen (R 8) receive around € 10,600.09 and the presidents (R 10 ) approx. € 13,801.08. The judges of the BVerfG receive remuneration that corresponds to salary group R 10.

The judges at the other federal courts, however, receive R 1 and R 2; this corresponds to the salary of the judges at the local and regional courts of the federal states.

Extra income

Numerous federal judges have paid sideline jobs. These are mainly publications, such as legal comments or essays, as well as teaching activities and lectures.

In 2012, 73 percent of the judges at the Federal Court of Justice had secondary employment, 85 percent at the Federal Administrative Court, 97 percent at the Federal Fiscal Court and 100 percent at the Federal Labor Court and the Federal Social Court. Judges at the Federal Fiscal Court earned an average of 28,200 euros per person, judges at the Federal Labor Court 16,400 euros, judges at the Federal Court of Justice 10,500 euros, judges at the Federal Social Court 10,100 euros and judges at the Federal Administrative Court 3,500 euros.

In 2013, 308 judges in the federal service (at the Federal Court of Justice, Federal Fiscal Court, Federal Administrative Court, Federal Labor Court, Federal Social Court and Federal Patent Court), including the court presidents, performed a secondary activity.

Official costume

In order to emphasize their position as the highest authority of the respective branch of law, the official costume of the judges at the Supreme Courts of Justice is in crimson , those of the judges at the Federal Constitutional Court in scarlet . The judges at the other federal courts, however, wear black robes .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Hillgruber, Rn. 30 on Art. 98 GG, in: Maunz / Dürig Basic Law Comment (accessed on April 15, 2012, only available for a fee)
  2. ^ A b Lexicon Politics, State, Society, Christian Rittershofer, 1st edition, 2007
  3. Morgenthaler, Rn. 1 on Art. 94 GG, in: Beck'scher online commentary on the Basic Law (accessed on April 14, 2012, only available for a fee)
  4. Bundestag printed matter 18/7547. Retrieved September 8, 2016 .
  5. 2017: Top 1 - Federal judge election illegal? In: Initiative news clearance . Retrieved on August 31, 2019 (German).
  6. Federal Salary Act as of February 1, 2017 (accessed December 10, 2017)
  7. Wirtschaftswoche of March 29, 2014: Most of the federal judges have secondary activities . Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  8. Bundestag printed paper 18/1027 of April 2, 2014 . Retrieved June 6, 2015.