Judgment (Germany)

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Conviction for fraud in criminal proceedings (here a fine of 2,100 euros)

In judicial proceedings , a judgment is the decision on the subject of the dispute, which is usually settled by an instance , and which the judging court usually issues on the basis of an oral hearing. In criminal jurisdiction , the oral hearing is fundamentally necessary due to the principle of oral practice; The only exception is the penalty order , which counts as a final judgment if an objection is not lodged within two weeks of service. Judgments become final when they can no longer be challenged by legal means . They can - with restrictions even before they become legally binding  - be enforced ( foreclosure ). In addition to the judgment, there are also other forms of judicial decisions , such as resolutions , orders and orders . In German law, judgments are made in the name of the people .

Types of judgments

Judgments can be divided according to various criteria:

Judgments in civil proceedings

  • Classification according to the legal consequence of the judgment. One differentiates:
    • Performance judgments as a result of a performance suit (conviction, for example, to pay money, to surrender an item, to carry out certain work, to tolerate or omit certain actions, to submit a declaration of intent , etc.); If the debtor does not comply with the judgment, the creditor's legal protection interests are not yet fully satisfied by the performance judgment, and enforcement is still required ;
    • Declaratory judgments as a result of a declaratory action (e.g. the finding that the plaintiff is a member of a certain association, that a termination is ineffective, that the defendant is obliged to pay the plaintiff damages, that a document is genuine or false, etc.); The interim assessment ruling plays a special role because of the weakness of the legal force ; suit repellent judgments are always declaratory judgments: Here is a further distinction between process judgment (dismissal of the action as inadmissible) and property judgments (dismissal of the action as unfounded). The difference between a process judgment and a factual judgment lies in the legal force .
    • Structural judgments that immediately result in a change in the law ( divorce , dissolution of a marriage , exclusion of a partner from a company, suspension of foreclosure through enforcement action or third-party opposition action ; granting a better rank in a lien or preferential right through judgment following action for preferential satisfaction ).
  • Classification according to the scope of the process: A distinction is made between full judgments ( Section 300 ZPO ), which deal with the entire legal dispute, partial judgments ( Section 301 ZPO), which only deal with part of the subject matter of the dispute, and interim judgments ( Section 303 ZPO), which only deal with a preliminary question relevant to the decision decide. Special forms of the interim judgment are the interim judgment on the admissibility of the action ( § 280 Abs. 2 ZPO), the interim judgment on the reason ( § 304 ZPO) and the interim judgment on an interim dispute with a third party not involved in the legal dispute, namely on the rejection of the Secondary intervention ( § 71 ZPO), about the return of documents among lawyers ( § 135 Abs. 2 ZPO) and about the right to refuse to testify ( § 387 ZPO).
  • Classification according to the basis of the judgment: A distinction is made between the normal disputed judgment, which is issued after a disputed hearing between the parties, and the undisputed judgment. Types of the undisputed judgment are the default judgment ( § 330 , § 331 ZPO), which is issued against the defaulting party due to the default of a party, the acknowledgment judgment ( § 307 ZPO), which is issued if the defendant fully or partially ( partial acknowledgment ), and the waiver judgment ( Section 306 ZPO) that is issued if the plaintiff waives the claim. The inadmissible claim and the inconclusive claim (the claim which, according to their own submission, does not justify the claim) is rejected against the defaulting plaintiff not by default judgment , but by disputed judgment (so-called “spurious default judgment”).
  • Classification according to the validity of the judgment: A distinction is made between unconditional judgments and conditional judgments, which can later be overturned in the same instance because certain objections of the defendant are only examined after the conditional judgment has been issued. Types of reservation judgment are the judgment with the reservation of offsetting with a counterclaim ( § 302 ZPO) and the reservation judgment in the document process ( § 599 ZPO), in which the defendant is reserved the execution of all rights which he does not already apply in the document process, so could prove with certificates.

Judgments in criminal proceedings

In criminal law, a distinction is only made between the possible judgments

Supplementary resolution in the event of probation and warning

In the case of conviction to a suspended prison sentence or to a measure of reform and security suspended on probation, the probation period (range: 2-5 years) and the court conditions and instructions given to the convicted person are not set in the judgment, but together with the judgment announced decision ( § 268a  para. 1 u. 2 Code of Criminal Procedure). According to Section 59  (1) of the Criminal Code (StGB), the same applies to warnings with reservation of punishment .

( Incidentally, the premature termination of the process by discontinuing proceedings is (also) not carried out by a judgment, but also by a court order .

Other rules of procedure

For labor court processes, administrative court processes, social court processes and tax court processes, what has been said for civil processes applies with the proviso that no default judgments are provided in the administrative court process, in the social court process and in the tax court process. In these rules of procedure, a disputed final judgment can also be made in the absence of one or both parties.

Form and content of the judgment

The following rules apply to the - solely authoritative - written judgment:

Civil litigation

A civil judgment consists of the following components:

  • Rubrum , i.e. precise designation of the parties, if applicable the legal representatives and the authorized representatives ( Section 313 (1) No. 1 ZPO)
  • Designation of the court and the judges who participated in the decision (Section 313 (1) No. 2 ZPO)
  • Designation of the day on which the oral hearing was closed (Section 313 (1) No. 3 ZPO)
  • Judgment formula (§ 313 Abs. 1 Nr. 4 ZPO). The judgment formula is the crucial part of the judgment. The subject of the dispute is decided in the judgment formula. It usually consists of three parts:
    • Factual decision: Either a decision in the sense of the claim or dismissal or a combination of both (the claim is only partially complied with). In its decision, the court may not go beyond the plaintiff's application or award anything other than what has been applied for ( Section 308 ZPO). The formula must be formulated in such a way that the judgment can be carried out later, for example an object to be surrendered must be precisely described.
    • Cost decision . The court decides ex officio about the costs of the legal dispute.
    • Decision on provisional enforceability . This decision is also made ex officio. Judgments that issue or confirm preliminary injunctions do not contain a decision on provisional enforceability, because such judgments are provisionally enforceable by law.
  • Facts (Section 313 (1) No. 5, (2) ZPO). The offense contains the presentation of the subject of the legal dispute. It usually consists of the following parts:
    • Undisputed facts. Facts that the parties unanimously submit, the court must base the decision on, even if this submission does not in fact apply. This follows from the principle that in civil proceedings the parties themselves have the subject matter of the dispute at their disposal ( disposition maxim ).
    • Disputed submission by the plaintiff.
    • Request of the plaintiff
    • Request of the defendant
    • The defendant's contentious submission
    • Result of any evidence taken.
If the judgment cannot be challenged, it need not contain any facts. Even indisputable judgments do not contain any facts.
  • Reasons for the decision (§ 313 Paragraph 1 No. 6, Paragraph 3 ZPO). The reasons for the decision contain the reasons for the decision. In particular, it is shown which facts the court assumes on the basis of which evidence assessment or which allegations the court does not consider to be proven, and which legal consequences result from the established facts. As a rule, indisputable judgments do not contain any reasons.
  • Signature of the judge (Section 315 (1) ZPO)

Criminal trial

A criminal judgment consists of the following components:

  • Keyword-like designation of the criminal case (for example: "because of fraud")
  • Name of the court and the ruling body (for example: "the Munich District Court - Schöffengericht -" or "the 1st major criminal chamber of the Munich I District Court as a jury court")
  • Designation of all meeting days as well as the participating judges including lay judges, all public prosecutors, defense counsel involved in the main hearing and the clerk of the office who participated on the day the judgment was pronounced ( Section 275 (3) StPO)
  • Judgment formula . It is the most important part of the verdict and contains the decision on the charge. In the case of conviction, the formula contains the guilty verdict, i.e. the description of the offense or offenses of which the accused is found guilty, and possibly the sentence. A fine is not stated in its total amount, but according to the number and amount of the daily rates . If a prison sentence is suspended, this is indicated in the formula. If the accused is sentenced to a total sentence, only this is given. The individual penalties are only mentioned in the reasons. The judgment formula also contains ancillary penalties such as driving bans , measures for reform and security such as withdrawal of the driver's license or placement in a rehab or psychiatric hospital and a possible order for confiscation or forfeiture. The formula also contains a decision on the costs of the procedure as well as reimbursement claims for the necessary expenses, if any. The formula also includes a possible decision on compensation under the Criminal Law Compensation Act for wrongly served pre- trial detention or a wrongly suffered provisional withdrawal of the driver's license. Acquisitions and partial acquittals (acquittal "otherwise") are also possible.

In addition, a purely litigation ruling can be issued, either to discontinue the proceedings or to reject them.

  • List of the rules applied (only in the event of conviction or acquittal for incapacity ). This list is the basis for entering the judgment in the Federal Central Register .
  • Reasons for the judgment ( § 267 StPO). A distinction must be made here:
    • Conviction:
      • The personal circumstances of the accused, insofar as they are relevant to the decision (in particular curriculum vitae, income situation, criminal record)
      • Findings on the incident .
      • Evidence assessment , i.e. justification why and on the basis of which evidence the court is convinced of the determined facts. If all parties involved waive their right to appeal or if the judgment is not challenged, the assessment of the evidence may be omitted.
      • Legal appraisal of the ascertained crime, i.e. a description of which criminal offenses the accused has fulfilled.
      • Penalty assessment , i.e. justification of the specified individual penalties and the total penalty. First of all, it must be shown which penalty framework the court assumed, and whether and why it made use of any possible postponements of the penalty framework. Then the concrete sentence has to be justified within the established range of penalties on the basis of the reasons for intensifying and mitigating the penalty. If a prison sentence of less than six months is imposed, reasons must be given as to why no fine was imposed. If several individual penalties are created, the amount of the total penalty must then be justified. If, as an exception, the option of not creating a total penalty from a fine and a custodial sentence has been used, this must also be justified. It must also be justified why a custodial sentence was suspended on probation or why a (short) prison sentence of up to two years was not suspended. Side effects, in particular measures for improvement and security (in practice the most important thing is the withdrawal of the driver's license), must be justified here.
    • Acquittal:
      • Communication of the charge.
      • Notification of whether acquittal was made for factual reasons (allegation of the offense cannot be proven) or for legal reasons (for proven offense deemed not to be punishable).
      • Communication of the facts established by the court.
      • Assessment of evidence, i.e. in particular the reason why the court considers the alleged act to have not been proven.
  • Signature of the professional judge (Section 275 (2) StPO). The lay judges do not have to sign the judgment.
Other rules of procedure

For judgments in labor court litigation, administrative court litigation, social court litigation and tax court litigation, what has been said for civil litigation essentially applies.

Attachment to judgments

In German law, courts are not bound by judgments that have not been issued in the same legal dispute. In Germany, courts can deviate from the judgments of their own court or other courts, even the highest federal courts ( Federal Court of Justice , Federal Labor Court , Federal Administrative Court , Federal Fiscal Court and Federal Social Court ). A binding only applies to certain judgments of the Federal Constitutional Court that become legally binding . According to Article 97, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law , judges are only subject to the law. A binding to prejudices is alien to German law. However, the decisions of the appellate courts, in particular the highest federal courts, have in fact a considerable binding effect, because the application of the law by the courts is based on the case law of the appellate courts in the interests of legal certainty and legal peace .


Spelling and arithmetic errors in civil and criminal judgments can be corrected at any time . The correction is limited to obvious inaccuracies and, unlike the appeal procedure, does not lead to a new decision on the matter.

See also


  • Raimund Jakob, Martin Usteri, Robert Weimar: Law and Psychology. Lived law as an object of qualitative and quantitative consideration. Festschrift for Manfred Rehbinder. Lang, Bern 2006.
  • Robert Weimar: Psychological structures of judicial decision. Stämpfli, Bern 1996.
  • Alexander Völzmann: The binding effect of criminal judgments in civil proceedings. Carl Heymanns Verlag, Cologne 2006.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Heinz : The German Criminal Proceedings: Legal Foundations, Legal Findings, Historical Development and Current Trends 2004, p. 15