Disputes under Public Law
Disputes between competent authorities and service providers are considered to be disputes under public law.
The most important formal legal remedies with respect to administrative decisions by competent authorities are appeals and legal action through the administrative court. Authorities enclose explanations of the available legal remedies with their administrative decisions. These explanations of legal remedies provide information about how and whether action may be taken against an administrative decision.
If no explanation of the available legal remedies has been enclosed with an administrative decision, such information may be requested from the competent authority or, alternatively, may also be found in the applicable procedural law. Special deadlines may apply.
Appeals will result in the competent authority reviewing the decision against which an objection was made and announcing the results of this review to the appellant in an appeal notification.
You may file for legal action at the competent administrative court against administrative decisions that do not provide for an appeals procedure, and against appeal notifications.
Such legal action will result in a decision from the competent court. The type of legal action is determined by the plaintiff’s case (for example, the repeal of an administrative act or ceasing/implementing administrative action).
Extensive information about filing legal action is provided on the website of the Justice Portal of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Further information is available on the website of the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.
In urgent cases, you may also request a rapid decision from the court to provisionally safeguard rights that are at risk. Further information about this procedure is provided on the website of the Justice Portal of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The procedures for the respective legal remedies are regulated by corresponding regulations. State-specific regulations can be found on the Internet portal “recht.nrw.de” of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Information about German federal legal regulations is available here.
Further information, e.g. about the structure of jurisdictions, is available on the Justice Portal of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Explanations of specific terms are provided under “Recht von A-Z”.
Disputes under Civil Law
Civil law regulates disputes between equal natural and/or legal persons under private law. Civil law primarily concerns general private law which is predominantly regulated by the German Civil Code [Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB]. This covers the following topics:
- General part (e.g. capacity to contract)
- Law of Obligations (e.g. purchase and service contracts and contracts to produce a work)
- Law of Property (e.g. land purchase)
- Family Law (e.g. marriage)
- Law of Succession (e.g. testator regulations)
Furthermore, civil law includes the German Product Liability Act [Produkthaftungsgesetz, ProdHG], the German Act on the Ownership of Apartments and the Right of Permanent Res-idency [Wohnungseigentumsgesetz, WEG] and the German Act on Registered Life Partnerships [Lebenspartnerschaftsgesetz, LPartG].
Special private law refers to laws applicable only to a limited number of persons. These include:
- Commercial and corporate laws (German Commercial Code [Handelsgesetzbuch, HGB], German Limited Liability Companies Act [GmbH-Gesetz, GmbHG] and the German Stock Corporation Act [Aktiengesetz, AktienG])
- Labour laws (regulations concerning rights between employers and employees)
- Competition laws (e.g. anti-trust or trademark law)
- International private laws (regulations concerning national applications of laws in the case of conflicts)
Disputes under civil law are handled by civil law courts (ordinary jurisdiction). This procedure is regulated by the German Code of Civil Procedure [Zivilprozessordnung, ZPO]. Depending on the amount under dispute, the court of first instance is either the local court [Amtsgericht, AG] or the district court [Landgericht, LG]. The court of second instance is the district court or the higher regional court [Oberlandesgericht, OLG] and, finally, the court of the highest instance is the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH). In addition, labour courts have their own jurisdictions.
An overview of ordinary jurisdiction and of labour court jurisdiction is available here.
Local competence of the courts is normally determined by the liable party’s place of residence.
Detailed information about civil procedures is provided on the website of the Justice Portal of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Claims to monetary payments may be enforced in a simplified manner through judicial dunning procedures. Further information about such procedures is available here.
If you are unable to cover court costs, you may request legal aid under certain conditions.
Information about consumer protection and points of contact is provided here.
In addition to the applicable laws, the following procedural regulations must be observed during court procedures:
- For disputes under public law, the Code of Administrative Court Procedure [Verwaltungsgerichtsordnung, VwGO] and the German Administrative Procedure Act [Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz, VwVfG]
- For disputes under civil law, the German Code of Civil Procedure
- For disputes under labour law, the German Labour Court Act [Arbeitsgerichtsgesetz, ArbGG]
- For disputes under social law, the 10th Book of the German Social Code [Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB X] and the German Social Courts Act [Sozialgerichtsgesetz, SGG]
- For disputes under tax law, the German Fiscal Code [Abgabenordnung, AO] and the German Code of Procedure of Fiscal Courts [Finanzgerichtsordnung, FGO]