The structure of the courts and law in the Federal Republic of Germany chapter 1 de

National law – DE – Legal system – module 1

Germany has a civil law system based on Roman law with some references to Germanic law. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) is the German Supreme Court responsible for constitutional matters, with power of judicial review. Criminal and private laws are codified on the national level in the Strafgesetzbuch and the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch respectively.

A characteristic of the German judicial system is the division of judicial authority into several special jurisdictions. According to the constitution, there are five special jurisdictions of equal status. These are ordinary jurisdiction (i.e. civil and criminal jurisdiction), administrative jurisdiction, fiscal jurisdiction, social jurisdiction and labour jurisdiction (Article 95 of the Basic Law). Each special jurisdiction is independent and has various stages of appeal.

Federal Court of Justice

Germany’s supreme court system, called Bundesgerichtshof, is specialised: for civil and criminal cases; the highest court of appeal is the inquisitorial Federal Court of Justice.  The Federal Labour Court, the Federal Social Court, the Federal Finance Court and the Federal Administrative Court are responsible for other affairs.

Federal Social Court

The Social Court Act dated 3 September 1953 (Federal Law Gazette part I, page 1239) came into force on 1 January 1954. The inauguration of the Federal Social Court took place on 23 March 1955 when the first public session was held. The Bundessozialgericht is responsible for audits against the social court judgments or leap revisions against judgments of the social.

Federal Family Court

According to Article 23b of the German Constitutional Court (GVG), there is a section of the District Court responsible for the decision of family matters since 1976.

Federal Labour Court

The Federal Labour Court, based in Erfurt, is the highest court in Germany´s labour court system. In labour jurisdiction, the Federal Labour Court is of great importance. As a supreme federal court of justice, the court has to promote the consistency of court decisions in the area of labour law and develop the law where necessary.

Federal Fiscal Court

The Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof) is one of five federal supreme courts of Germany, established according to Article 95 of the Basic Law. It is the federal court of appeal for tax and customs matters in cases which have already been heard by the subordinate instance, namely the Finance Courts.

  1. Federal Administrative Court.

The Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the court of the last resort for generally all cases of administrative law, mainly disputes between citizens and the state. It hears appeals from the Oberverwaltungsgerichte, or Superior Administrative Courts, which, in turn, are the courts of appeals for decisions of the Verwaltungsgerichte (Administrative Courts).

At the head of the Federal Administrative Court is the President . He is the superior with authority relating to personnel matter affecting judges and the administrative staff of the Federal Administrative Court. His duties also include those of a judge. The judges at the Federal Administrative Court discharge their judicial duties in senates. The roster allocating court business assigns responsibilities to each senate. The Presidential Judge addresses issues of personnel and court administration on behalf of the President.

Court Administration supports the President and the senates in the discharge of their duties. It is divided into the administrative department, the registry, the information services and the presidential department.

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