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High court considers fees to scare off frivolous appeals

The Local · 22 Aug 2011, 10:34

Published: 22 Aug 2011 10:34 GMT+02:00

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A constitutional violation is found in less than five percent of the roughly 6,000 complaints submitted each year to the Federal Constitutional Court. And because it is essentially free to submit a case for review, many people submit pointless ones. Although the litigation process in Germany is more streamlined than in many other European countries, it can still take months for decisions to be reached.

In an interview with the daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung Chief Justice Andrew Voßkuhle said the court is at risk of being hopelessly overloaded, leading to even longer wait times for appellants. He wants to see the fee instituted for appeals deemed ridiculous.

“The two panels of the court are only able to handle all cases in a reasonable period with great difficulty,” Voßkuhle told the newspaper. “Justice too late is no justice.”

If nothing changes, Voßkuhle fretted, his justices face the same situation as the European Court of Human Rights, which is currently gridlocked with 150,000 appeals under consideration.

Under Voßkuhle’s plan, a court officer would decide whether an appeal is frivolous at the time of its filing. The fee would be imposed on a sliding scale based on the income of the appellant up to €5,000. Those who disagree with the officer’s decision would have the option of seeking judicial review.

Story continues below…

The justice said there is more than time wasted when silly complaints are issued – processing each one costs thousands of euros.

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:55 August 22, 2011 by johnny108
This is a good idea.

I have lived under the American system of justice for 34 years (my entire life). During this time, OJ Simpson was found innocent, and so was Casey Anthony.

If the German people don't stop the frivolous lawsuits now, they will end up like America- choking to death on lawsuits by criminals, which the justice system cannot stop.

Criminals should be punished, and prevented from hurting others again. They should NOT be allowed to profit from their crimes.

Don't make the mistake that America has already made.
12:35 August 22, 2011 by michael4096
I thought justice was for everybody, not just those that can afford it
12:42 August 22, 2011 by Englishted
This is literally one law for the rich.
13:07 August 22, 2011 by frankiep
"The fee would be imposed on a sliding scale based on the income of the appellant up to €5,000"

Sounds reasonable to me.
14:22 August 22, 2011 by PiggyPoo

I agree entirely.I think some people have missed the "sliding scale" bit.

The law should also prevent cases such as the recent one where a child-murderer ended up receiving compensation for anxiety caused by oh-so-horrible-nasty police officers who were trying to find out where the poor little (unfortunately already dead) soul was being held captive.

My better half works in a shop which has an unusually high number (at least, I hope it's an unusually high number) of customers who call their lawyers at the drop of a hat. Absolutely ridiculous things over which the shop & its employees have no control whatsoever. Far more extreme than suing a fast-food chain for making its coffee too hot...

Everybody seems to have Rechtschutzversicherung these days and wants to use it, too.

Cut out the timewasting, daft cases and let the courts get on with what really matters.
15:07 August 22, 2011 by jbaker
This is why the Money system way of life needs to end. Only the few with money controlling the masses.

When the masses get angry and wake up - Watch out Rich and Spineless, your world is going to change.
15:35 August 22, 2011 by frankiep
The "Money system way of life needs to end"?

What does this even mean?

I'm guessing you are a 'follower' of the ridiculous dumb Zeitgeist cult.
15:42 August 22, 2011 by The-ex-pat
If it is the same sliding scale that child care is worked out on, then the vast majority will be paying the full amount.
16:14 August 22, 2011 by catjones
Since this is directed at the high court, it's not clear whether these are criminal or civil cases. I've never heard of so many civil cases until I started following german news and blogs. Makes the U.S. seem more (or is it less?) civil. My guess is that cheap legal insurance is behind these scenes, promoting lawsuits where otherwise a small claims court would suffice.
18:15 August 22, 2011 by michael4096
2 problems with sliding scales...

1 - upper limit, perhaps 5% of salary with no upper limit would be more reasonable because €5k is worth less to some than €50 to others

2 - even so, 5% of salary to some is worth less than 5% of salary to others

Using cost as a scheduling mechanism isn't great when it comes to justice or anything else where men are considered equal
18:36 August 22, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
A court officer would decide if an appeal is frivilous? That puts a dangerous amount of power in one person's hands, since basically they would be able to determine if you get out of jail or not. The potential for corruption is unimaginable. I agree that people may abuse the system, but no system is perfect, and this would violate basic human right to have an appeal.
18:52 August 22, 2011 by Wise Up!
Why not just have loser pays?
18:59 August 22, 2011 by Gretl
Why not establish a lower court to sort the wheat from the chaff?
01:41 August 23, 2011 by lenny van
What difference does it make to a foreigner, who has little chance of winning a lawsuit against a German. Read about this in "Which is worse - living in the U.S.A. or Germany? Which is better - Canada or the U.K. or Canada?"
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