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