Civil proceedings before the regional court; information on the 1st instance
In certain first-instance civil disputes, you can appeal to the district courts.
The civil chambers of the regional courts rule as the first instance in civil disputes on claims whose monetary value exceeds the sum of €5,000. Exceptions exist for certain disputes, such as those relating to residential tenancies or family matters. These are always decided by the district court in the first instance.
The district court has first-instance jurisdiction for actions for damages due to breaches of official duty, irrespective of the amount in dispute.
Which district court has local jurisdiction for your civil proceedings depends primarily on the subject matter of the action in question. Sections 12 to 37 of the Code of Civil Procedure contain the most important provisions on local jurisdiction. As a rule, the court in whose district the defendant is domiciled has jurisdiction.
Lawyers are compelled to appear in civil disputes before the regional court. This means that you must be represented in the proceedings by a licensed attorney-at-law. You can appeal against the judgment of the Regional Court to the Higher Regional Court if the value of the subject of the appeal exceeds €600 or if the Regional Court has allowed the appeal in the judgment.
In civil proceedings before the district courts, the complaint must be submitted to the court in writing. The statement of claim must be signed by a licensed lawyer (compulsory representation by a lawyer).
If the lawsuit is ended by judgment, the court also decides which party has to bear the costs of the lawsuit. The principle applies that the unsuccessful party bears the costs of the legal dispute. The costs of a legal dispute are made up of court costs (fees and expenses) and out-of-court costs (primarily attorney's fees). The court costs are levied in accordance with a list of costs and are generally based on the importance of the case, the so-called amount in dispute.
A party whose personal and financial circumstances are such that he or she cannot afford the costs of the legal proceedings, or can only afford them in part or in installments, shall be granted legal aid upon his or her application if the intended legal action or legal defense offers sufficient prospect of success and does not appear wilful. The application may either be made in writing to the court before which the case is to be brought or be made on the record before the court registry. The application may also be submitted as an electronic document with a qualified electronic signature or by secure means of transmission in accordance with Section 130a (4) of the Code of Civil Procedure, with a simple signature, for example by sender-confirmed De-Mail. The application for legal aid is not subject to the requirement to be represented by a lawyer.
Links to more information
Responsible for editing: Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz
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