German judges law

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The German Judiciary Act ( DRiG ) regulates the legal status of judges in the federal and state service in the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition, the individual federal states have passed their own judicial laws to specify the framework regulations. The authority to set standards for the federal and state governments arises from Article 98 of the Basic Law .

Basic data
Title: German judges law
Abbreviation: DRiG
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Administration of justice
References : 301-1
Original version from: September 8, 1961
( BGBl. I p. 1665 )
Entry into force on: July 1, 1962
New announcement from: April 19, 1972
( BGBl. I p. 713 )
Last change by: Art. 1 G of November 22, 2019
( BGBl. I p. 1755 )
Effective date of the
last change:
November 29, 2019
(Art. 2 G of November 22, 2019)
GESTA : C055
Weblink: Text of the law
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The law specifies numerous constitutional requirements for judges as organs of judicial power . In particular, the incompatibility of the office of judge with other activities in one of the other powers.


In terms of training, access to the (full-time) judicial office (Section 5 et seq. DRiG) is determined by studying law at a university for at least two and regularly four years, which begins with the first state examination (consisting of a university focus and state compulsory subject examination ) - the legal trainee examination - is completed. Subsequently, through a two-year preparatory service (legal traineeship ) in a civil court , a prosecutor or criminal court , an administrative authority and a lawyer or a lawyer to take place. The subsequent second state examination (also known as the Grand State Examination or Assessorexamen) confers the qualification for judicial office, which is or may be necessary as access to the legal profession or higher service in administration. It is also a prerequisite for joining the public prosecutor's office ( Section 122 DRiG).

In addition to the office of full-time judge, who has to be a fully qualified lawyer, German law also recognizes the office of honorary judge without compulsory legal training. The honorary judges have completely equal rights to the full-time judge and are only responsible to the law and their conscience. You can also overrule the full-time judge.

Requirements (§ 9 DRiG)

In addition to the qualification for judicial office, the appointment as a judge according to § 9 DRiG requires German citizenship , sufficient social competence and proof that the person appointed stands up for the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany at all times .

Job titles

A judge is initially appointed "on probation" and has the title of "judge". After the probationary period, he is usually appointed as a "judge for life". “Temporary judges” are only appointed in exceptional cases.

The official designations (previously: District Court Councilor, District Court Director, Senate President, etc.) have now been modernized to the extent that the following designations are now used:

  • "Judge at the ... court" (e.g. judge at the labor court) for the single judge or associate judge
  • “Presiding judge at the ... court” for the presiding judge in the collegial panel
  • "Director of the ... court" for the head of a local, labor or social court (up to a certain size of the court)
  • "President of the ... court" for the head of another court and major courts of first instance (so-called presidential courts )
  • “Vice-President of the ... court” for the permanent representative of a President
  • "Further supervision of leading judges at the district court" for a judge who is also entrusted with administrative tasks (on behalf of the director or president of the district court, but not by proxy)


According to § 38 DRiG, the judge has to swear the following oath: “I swear to exercise the judicial office true to the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany and true to the law, to judge to the best of my knowledge and belief without regard to the person and only to serve truth and justice so help me God. "

According to paragraph 2, the oath can also be taken without the words “so help me God”.

Official matters

Only official supervision can be exercised over the judge . This results from its constitutionally protected independence. Disputes relating to service law are settled within the normal administrative jurisdiction ( Section 60 DRiG). For the federal service there is a service court at the Federal Court of Justice in the form of a special civil senate.

Section 116 DRiG (entry into retirement in special cases)

Immediately with the promulgation of the law on September 14, 1961 (and not only when the other Sections came into force), Section 116 came into force: “A judge or public prosecutor who, from September 1, 1939 to May 9, 1945, as a Judge or public prosecutor has participated in the administration of criminal justice can be retired on his application. ”Because the deadline set for this already ended on June 30, 1962. The purpose of the provision was to allow as many NS judges as possible to be judged on the occasion of the Judges Act to be liberated, "silently", by means of a paragraph that would have been superfluous when the law came into force.



  1. Klaus Bästlein: "Nazi blood judges as pillars of the Adenauer regime". The GDR campaigns against Nazi judges and public prosecutors, the reactions of the West German judiciary and their failed “self-cleaning” 1957-1968 . In: Klaus Bästlein, Annette Rosskopf, Falco Werkentin: Contributions to the legal history of the GDR. 4th edition, Berlin 2009 (= series of publications by the Berlin State Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former GDR, vol. 12). ISBN 978-3-934085-05-3 . Pp. 53–93, here p. 72.

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