Bundesgerichtshof

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The Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice) (BGH) is the highest German court for civil and criminal law. It is one of the six[1] Supreme Courts in Germany.

are the other supreme courts. They only hear cases about their areas of law. There is no appeal from any of the supreme courts, unless someone's human rights are affected which is a matter for the Bundesverfassungsgericht - the Federal Constitutional Court to decide.

History[change | edit source]

Courthouse
New headquarters building

The Bundesgerichtshof was founded in 1950. Its headquarters were in the old Palace of the "Hereditary Grand Duke" (the heir apparent) of Hesse in Karlsruhe.

Another part, the 5th criminal division is based in the Villa Sack in Leipzig. The idea was to move all of the court there after the reunification. The judges did not want to move so instead only the 5th criminal division was moved from Berlin to Leipzig.

The 5th division used to meet in West Berlin so that appeal cases could be heard in the city without having to take criminals across the DDR. The Federal Administrative Court moved into the Villa sack as well on August 22nd, 2002.

Organisation[change | edit source]

The BGH is divided into "senates". Each Senate has a judges as chairman and four assessors.

There are

  • twelve civil courts of appeal;
  • five criminal courts of appeal (including the one based in Leipzig); and
  • eight specialised senates . These deal with
    • Farming matters;
    • Advocates affairs (attorneys and lawyers);
    • Notary affairs;
    • Patent agent affairs;
    • Accountant affairs;
    • Tax consultant disputes, but not tax disputes, which are handled by the Federal Finance Court in Munich;
    • Cartel senate;
    • Matters about working for the federal government, except military service which is handled by the Federal Administrative Court.

Business distribution[change | edit source]

Civil courts of appeal[change | edit source]

Which senate hears a case depends on what is being argued about[2].

I. Copyrights, trademark rights, dishonest competition

II. Company law

III. Government liability

IV. Law of inheritance and insurance

V. Law of property

VI. "Deliktsrecht" Compensation after illegal acts tort

VII. Planning and building laws and regulations and contracts

VIII. Consumer and rent law

IX. Acts by lawyers and tax consultants, insolvency law

X. Patent and registered design law, "kind protection" (that is, protecting types of plants a breeder has grown),

Xa. Patent law, Travel contract law

XI. Banking law, loans and stock exhange law

XII. Family law and business rents law

Criminal divisions[change | edit source]

The criminal senates hear cases from the 24 Higher Regional Courts German: Oberlandesgerichte. Which senate depends on which court the appeal comes from.

1. Bamberg, Karlsruhe, Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart as well as armed forces crimes and offence against the national defence, tax law;

2. Frankfurt am Main, Jena, Koblenz and Cologne;

3. Celle, Düsseldorf, Oldenburg and Schleswig as well as state security crimes;

4. Hamm, Naumburg, Rostock, Saarbrücken and Zweibrücken, as well as traffic crimes;

5. (based in Leipzig): Supreme Court of Berlin and the Higher Regional Courts of Brandenburg, Brunswick, Bremen, Dresden and Hamburg as well as tax and customs crimes.

Presidents of the Federal Court of Justice[3][change | edit source]

No. Name birth and death Term start Term end
1 Dr. h.c. Hermann Weinkauf February 10 1894 - July 9 1981 October 1 1950 March 31 1960
2 Dr. Dr. h.c. Bruno Heusinger March 2 1900 - August 3 1987 April 1 1960 March 31 1968
3 Dr. Dr. h.c. Robert Fischer August 22 1911 - March 4 1983 April 1 1968 September 30 1977
4 Prof. Dr. Gerd Pfeiffer December 22 1919 - February 1 2007 October 1 1977 December 31 1987
5 Prof. Dr. Walter Odersky * July 17 1931 January 1 1988 July 31 1996
6 Dr. h.c. Karlmann Geiß * May 31 1935 August 1 1996 May 31 2000
7 Prof. Dr. Günter Hirsch * January 30 1943 July 15 2000 January 31 2008
8 Prof. Dr. Klaus Tolksdorf * November 14 1948 February 1 2008

References[change | edit source]

Other Websites[change | edit source]

Official website


Coordinates: 49°00′22″N, 8°23′48″E