Association of commerial judges

FAQs

How do plaintiffs and defendants come under the jurisdiction of the commercial divisions during a lawsuit?

The commercial divisions (Kammern für Handelssachen) only decide cases in which one of the parties has requested their involvement. Plaintiffs must file a request before or at the same time as filing their statement of claim. Defendants must file a request no later than the deadline set for submitting their defence. The Regional Court must have jurisdiction (amount claimed must be over €5,000 or court must be acting as an appeal court). The defendant may also request that the commercial divisions hear the case if the case is a commercial matter and is pending in a civil division.

What are the statutory regulations for the commercial divisions?

The commercial divisions are governed by the Seventh Title of the Courts Constitution Act (GVG) in Sections 94 to 104.

What matters are heard by the commercial divisions?

Commercial matters are civil disputes that concern questions of commercial or company law as well as related areas of the law, such as stock exchange law or stock companies law. This includes especially: claims from commercial transactions between businesspeople; disputes between shareholders; disputes arising from commercial law, from bills of exchange, cheques and documentary evidence; from brand and design processes; from sales of businesses, maritime law and unfair competition; from company law; and from matters related to commercial registers.

Who can become a commercial judge?

To become an honorary judge, you must be a German citizen and be older than 29 and younger than 70. You must be or have been an owner, executive board member, CEO or agent of a company or legal entity governed by public law. Finally, you must reside within the district of the court or operate a commercial establishment there. Commercial judges must be highly trustworthy and honourable people. Anyone who has committed a criminal offence, who is not allowed to hold public office, or who is currently under investigation will be refused. Those in poor physical or financial health cannot be appointed either.

What are the rights and duties of a commercial judge?

Aside from the fact that commercial judges do not have the status of an employee of the state government, they have the same rights and duties as a professional judge during legal proceedings. When hearing cases and reaching judgments, they participate on an equal footing and have full voting rights. As a result, they can even outvote the senior judge – the legally trained professional judge – in this three-person court. Unlike aldermen, they wear a black robe during hearings – a visible sign that underscores their importance. Commercial judges must be independent and must uphold the secrecy of deliberations.

How does one become a commercial judge?

The appointment process for commercial judges is another expression of the role’s close ties to the commercial world. Candidates are proposed to the regional court by local chambers of commerce. After a thorough review process, the chambers of industry and commerce select suitable candidates from the business community and nominate experienced, honourable individuals.

  • First, interested parties apply to their local chamber of industry and commerce. In Berlin, this is Ms Franziska Henning (Tel.: 030 3151 0281, E-mail: Franziska.Henning(at)berlin.ihk.de).
  • Next, the chamber of industry and commerce invites the applicant to a face-to-face interview.
  • If the applicant meets all the requirements, the chamber of commerce will propose him or her to the regional court.
  • Following subsequent review, the Justice Senator or the state Minister of Justice appoints the applicant as an honorary commercial judge.
  • Before hearing his or her first case, the honorary commercial judge is sworn in and given a certificate of appointment.

A commercial judge’s term lasts five years but it can be extended for an additional five years several times over on the recommendation of the chamber of industry and commerce.

When is a commercial division responsible for hearing cases?

See Section 95 of the Courts Constitution Act (legal disputes between/by businesspeople, provided that the claim has a value of more than €5,000, or competition matters if requested by one of the parties, or matters relating to the commercial register).