Enforcement of judgments in Germany: overview

A Q&A guide to enforcement of judgments law in Germany.

The Q&A gives a structured overview of key practical issues concerning enforcement of judgments in this jurisdiction, including definitions and preliminary proceedings; applicable regulations/conventions; pending appeals; enforceable judgments; conditions for recognition and enforcement; proper service; public policy; provisional remedies; interest; actual enforcement; enforcing foreign judgments; enforcement proceedings; formalities; and any reform proposals.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions visit the Enforcement of judgments Country Q&A tool

For more information on enforcement of arbitral awards in Germany visit Enforcement of arbitral awards in Germany.

This Q&A is part of the Enforcement of Judgments and Arbitral Awards in Commercial Matters Global Guide.

Dr Mohammad Reza Ranjbar, Buse Heberer Fromm
Contents

Enforcement of judgments: domestic and foreign

Definitions and preliminary proceedings

1. What is the definition of judgment in your jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcement proceedings?

Domestic judgments of courts of the Federal Republic of Germany and its federal states will be described as "domestic judgments" in this chapter.

Decisions of the courts of foreign states will be described as "judgments of third countries" with the exception of foreign states which are members of the European Union as well as foreign states which are members of the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters 2007 (New Lugano Convention) (that is, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland). Judgments of Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are enforced according to the New Lugano Convention, while judgments of Israel are enforced according to the Convention of the Federal Republic of Germany and Israel of 20 July 1977 (Article 73 (1) and (3), Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 (on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Recast Brussels Regulation)).

The following considerations relating to the enforcement of judgments do not extend to decisions of foreign courts which are confirmed as "European Enforcement Orders". This means they are considered as domestic enforcement instruments under section 794 (1) No. 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung) (ZPO) and are enforced as domestic judgments under section 1082 of the ZPO, in conjunction with Regulation (EC) 805/2004 creating a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims (European Enforcement Order Regulation).

Domestic

In Germany, "judgments" are "on behalf of the people" , and contain:

  • The day of the decision.

  • The names of the judges who contributed to the decision.

  • The parties and their representatives.

  • The attorneys of records.

  • The operative provisions of the judgment.

International

Every decision of a court of a foreign state that decides the dispute in a legal procedure in which a fair hearing is guaranteed to each party, is defined as a "judgment" in Germany, regardless of the designation as judgment, decision, default summons or enforcement order (including the decision of assessment of costs of a court clerk) and regardless of its form.

 
2. Is it required that a judgment is final and has conclusive effect, or are decisions in preliminary/provisional/interim proceedings recognised and enforceable?

Domestic judgments

Legally binding final judgments and judgments that are declared as provisionally enforceable in the decision are enforceable. Additionally, judgments that confirm or alter interim injunctions or arrests which are solely enforceable with seizure effect in order to secure the claim are also enforceable.

Foreign judgments

Final decisions. Only legally binding decisions of the courts of third countries are enforceable domestically, with the exception of judgments of Switzerland, Norway and Iceland according to Article 38(1) of the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters 2007 (New Lugano Convention), which are enforceable in the same way as in the country of the judgment. The same exception applies to Israeli judgments (see Question 1).

Preliminary/provisional proceedings. Preliminary or provisional decisions of the courts of the EU member states are enforceable as far as they are enforceable in the country of origin.

 

Applicable regulations/conventions

3. What conventions and regulations is your jurisdiction a contracting party to?

Germany is a contracting party to the following conventions and regulations:

  • Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation).

  • Regulation (EC) 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Recast Brussels Regulation).

  • Regulation (EC) 1393/2007 on the service in the member states of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (Service of Documents Regulation), and repealing Regulation (EC) 1348/2000 on the service in the member states of judicial and extra-judicial documents in civil and commercial matters (Service Regulation).

  • Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters 2007 (New Lugano Convention).

  • Convention between the Republic of Germany and the State of Israel of 20 July 1977 on the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions in civil and commercial matters.

  • Convention between the Republic of Germany and the Republic of Tunisia of 19 July 1966 on the legal protection and assistance, the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions in civil and commercial matters and international commercial arbitration.

  • Treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation of 29 October 1954 between the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany.

  • Hague Convention of 17 July 1905 relating to civil procedure and Hague Convention of 1 March 1954 on civil procedure.

  • HCCH Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters 1965 (Hague Service Convention).

  • HCCH Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents 1961 (Apostille Convention).

  • European Convention of 7 June 1968 on the abolition of legalisation of documents executed by diplomatic agents or consular officers.

  • UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (New York Convention).

  • Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 1968 (Brussels Jurisdiction Convention) (applicable to Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands).

  • EFTA Convention on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 1988 (Lugano Convention) (applicable to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland).

 
4. Will enforcement be automatically refused if service of the proceedings did not conform to any applicable requirements of international treaties/regulations?

In enforcement proceedings for a judgment of a third country, the enforcement will be refused if (sections 723(2)(2), 328(1) No. 2, Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)):

  • The defendant has not entered an appearance in the proceedings of the court in the country of origin.

  • The defendant has appealed because of this.

  • The defendant has not been served with the documents by which the proceedings were initiated, or was not served in time to allow him to defend himself.

On the application of any interested party, the enforcement of a judgment of the courts of EU member states will be refused if (Articles 45(1)(b) and 46, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)):

  • The judgment was given in default of appearance.

  • The defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings, or with an equivalent document, in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable him to arrange for his defence, unless the defendant failed to commence proceedings to challenge the judgment when it was possible for him to do so.

 

Pending appeals

5. What is the effect of pending appeal proceedings where the decision is granted?

Domestic judgments

On the application of the appellee, the court of appeals can terminate the enforcement of a provisionally enforceable judgment against a provision of security, or without a provision of security. Alternatively, the court can order that the enforcement measures are to be set aside against a provision of security.

Foreign judgments

The court can suspend the enforcement proceedings for foreign judgments in whole or in part, if the judgment is challenged in the member state of origin. A further suspension can be granted if an application has been submitted for a decision where there are grounds for refusal of recognition (seeQuestion 9), or for a decision where the recognition is to be refused on the basis of one of those grounds (Article 38, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)).

Judgments of third countries will only be enforced if they are legally binding.

 

Enforceable judgments

6. What types of judgments in commercial matters are enforceable?

Domestic judgments

Money judgments/awards. Judgments regarding monetary payments, as described in the operative provisions of the judgment, are enforceable.

Judgments ordering or prohibiting the doing of acts/injunctions. Injunctions involving a coercive fine or coercive detention, are enforceable.

Default judgments. Judgments by default according to the operative provisions of the judgment are enforceable.

Foreign judgments

Foreign money judgments/awards of third countries can be enforced if this is ruled admissible by a judgment for enforcement (section 722 (1) , Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)). The enforcement judgment will not be issued, if, subject to bilateral agreements, the enforcement of judgments is not mutually warranted.

Judgments regarding monetary payments, including judgments by default of courts of EU member states, are enforceable if they are enforceable in the state of origin (Article 39, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)).

 
7. Are any class of judgments excluded from recognition and enforcement?

Domestic judgments

Only judgments on interim injunctions or arrests which are executable are excluded from recognition and enforcement (this means that their enforcement is limited to security measures).

The following classes of domestic judgments are also excluded from recognition and enforcement:

  • Judgments regarding procedural matters (Prozessurteil).

  • Declaratory judgments.

  • Judgments regarding the alteration of a legal condition (Gestaltungsurteil).

  • Judgments issuing a declaration of intent, with the exception of rulings on the payment of costs.

Apart from those, judgments where proceedings did not guarantee a fair hearing to each party are also excluded from recognition and enforcement.

Foreign judgments

If a judgment of a court of a third country is irreconcilable with German public policy (ordre public), the judgment will be excluded from recognition and enforcement, regardless of its legal effect. Additionally, if the country of origin is subject to bilateral agreements, reciprocity of recognition is not guaranteed.

The declaration of enforceability of EU member states' judgments can be refused, if:

  • Such recognition is manifestly contrary to German public policy.

  • A fair hearing was refused to the defendant.

  • The judgment is irreconcilable with a judgment given between the same parties in the member state of the judgment (Article 45(1), Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)).

 

Conditions for recognition and enforcement

8. What are the conditions to enforce and recognise a judgment?

Domestic judgments

For legally binding and provisionally enforceable German judgments, recognition is not required for enforcement. For the enforcement of the judgment, the judgment creditor must be issued with an enforceable copy of the judgment on application.

Foreign judgments

The recognition of judgments of third countries requires an enforcement judgment. The enforcement judgment can only be issued if the foreign decision is legally binding and, subject to bilateral agreements, reciprocity of enforcement of judgments is guaranteed.

A judgment given in an EU member state, which is enforceable in that member state must be enforced domestically without any declaration of enforceability being required (Article 39, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation) and section 1112, Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

Additionally, an authentic instrument that is enforceable in the member state of origin will be enforceable in other member states without any declaration of enforceability being required. Enforcement of the authentic instrument can be refused only if such enforcement is manifestly contrary to public policy (ordre public) in the member state addressed (Article 58(1), Brussels Regulation).

Court settlements that are enforceable in the member state of origin will be enforced in other member states under the same conditions as authentic instruments (Article 59, Brussels Regulation). On the application of the applicant, the court of the member state of origin or the competent authority issues the certificate using the form in Annex II of the Brussels Regulation (Article 42 (1)( b), Brussels Regulation).

 
9. What are the grounds for refusing recognition and enforcement?

Domestic judgments

The enforcement court will refuse enforcement of a German judgment which is contrary to public policy (ordre public) ex officio.

Other reasons to refuse the enforcement of a domestic judgment can be asserted by the defendant. The defendant can raise an objection to the claim being enforced if the grounds of objection arose after the end of the hearing, which was the last opportunity for objections to be asserted (section 767(1) and (2), Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)). The judgment debtor can file a reminder serving as a legal remedy against the nature and manner of enforcement or against the manner of proceeding (sections 732 and 766, ZPO).

Foreign judgments

Legally binding judgments of third countries can only be declared enforceable domestically by means of the enforcement judgment, if they can be recognised. The reasons for refusing recognition of the foreign judgment provided in section 328 (1) of the ZPO are mandatory public law and examined ex officio, with the exception of the violation of the right to a fair hearing according to section 328 (1) No. 2 of the ZPO.

On the application of the defendant to the court of the EU member state concerned , and which has been communicated to the European Commission (Article 47(1), Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)), the enforcement of the judgment must be refused if:

  • Recognition is manifestly contrary to public policy (ordre public) in the member state addressed.

  • The judgment was given in default of appearance and the defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings, or with an equivalent document, in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable him to arrange for his defence (unless the defendant failed to commence proceedings to challenge the judgment when it was possible for him to do so).

  • The judgment is irreconcilable with a judgment given between the same parties in the member state addressed.

  • The judgment is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in another member state or in a third state involving the same cause of action and between the same parties, provided that the earlier judgment fulfils the conditions necessary for its recognition in the member state addressed.

  • The judgment violates regulations regarding the competence of courts in insurance law cases, consumer law cases, individual labour law cases or regulations regarding the exclusive competence in proceedings which (Article 45(1), Brussels Regulation):

    • relate to rights in rem in immovable property;

    • relate to the validity, nullity or the dissolution of companies;

    • have as their object the validity of entries in public registers;

    • have as their object the registration or validity of patents, trademarks and designs; or

    • concern the enforcement of judgments of courts of the member state, in which the judgment is to be enforced.

The competent court's decision will be made publicly available by the Commission's "European Judicial Network" (Article 75, Brussels Regulation).

 

Proper service

10. Does the enforcing court review service of the proceedings? Are there any conditions regarding service of the proceedings that must have been satisfied/complied with?

Domestic judgments

Each enforcement body enforces the domestic, legally binding or provisionally enforceable decision without examining the service of the action in the lawsuit, in which the judgment has been made. The enforcement body begins with the enforcement of the judgment once it has been proven that the enforceable copy of the judgment of the judgment creditor has been served. Examples of the enforcement bodies depend on the content of the claim being enforced and examples include:

  • Bailiff.

  • Enforcement court.

  • Procedural court.

  • Land registry.

Foreign judgments

Judgments of third countries will not be recognised and declared enforceable if the defendant has not entered an appearance in the proceedings and who appeals on this fact, or has not duly been served the document by which the proceedings were initiated (section 328(1), No. 2 Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)). In order to enforce a foreign judgment domestically, a (domestic) enforcement judgment is required. This domestic enforcement judgment can only be enforced if the enforceable copy of the enforcement judgment has been served. This enforceable copy is issued to the judgment creditor and must be served to the judgment debtor.

The enforcement of judgments of courts of the EU member states will be refused, where either:

  • The judgment was given in default of appearance.

  • The defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable him to arrange for his defence.

This does not apply if the defendant failed to commence proceedings to challenge the judgment when it was possible for him to do so (Article 45(1)( b), Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)).

 

Public policy

11. Does public policy include matters of substantive law?

The violation of public policy by the foreign judgment to be enforced can derive from considerations of both substantive and procedural law.

 
12. Can the application of a law that is different to that applicable under the choice of law rules of the enforcing court be attacked on the basis of public policy?

The declaration of enforceability of a foreign judgment will be refused if the declaration is manifestly contrary to domestic ordre public (Articles 45(1)( a) and 46, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)). The test of public policy must not be applied to the rules relating to jurisdiction (Article 45(3), sentence 2, Brussels Regulation).

The decision on the declaration of enforceability of the foreign judgment will be issued regardless of whether or not the court has applied the applicable law in the proceedings of the lawsuit. A foreign judgment must not be reviewed as to its substance (Article 52, Brussels Regulation). Therefore, the review of the irreconcilability with ordre public of the state of the decision is excluded.

 
13. In what circumstances and against which judgments has the principle of public policy generally been applied?

A violation of domestic public policy by the foreign judgment must only be assumed if the decision is manifestly contrary to domestic fundamental concepts, especially constitutional concepts.

The principle of public policy has been applied in the following cases:

  • Where the judgment was obtained by fraud in connection with a matter of procedure.

  • Where punitive damages exceeding the compensation claim of domestic law were awarded.

  • Violation of the right to a fair hearing of each party by rejection of the attorney of record, because the party disorderly did not appear in court.

  • Suspension of a party in the lawsuit of the judgment due to impropriety in court.

  • Justification of the judgment based on testimonies of witnesses without their own perception or due to criminal violation of the obligation to tell the truth.

  • Judgments under violation of state immunity.

 

Provisional remedies

14. Is it possible to apply for provisional measures from the enforcing court pending the enforcement proceedings?

Domestic judgments

Legally binding or provisionally enforceable judgments of German courts are enforceable due to the issued enforcement clause. The judgment debtor can object to the legal admissibility of the enforcement clause and to the nature and manner of enforcement. In the proceedings regarding a decision on those objections, the court can issue provisional measures.

Moreover, the judgment debtor can object to an established claim of a legally binding or provisionally enforceable judgment to a limited extent by filing a corresponding action with the court of first instance hearing the case and having the opportunity to issue provisional measures (sections 767(1) and 768(1) Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

Foreign judgments

On the application of the judgment debtor, the presiding judge of the division for civil matters of the regional court (Landgericht) which has exclusive jurisdiction in regard to the application for the refusal of enforcement of a judgment of an EU member state can (sections 1115 (2) and (4) , ZPO):

  • Limit the enforcement proceedings to protective measures.

  • Make enforcement conditional on the provision of security as it determines.

  • Suspend either wholly or in part the enforcement proceedings, if the judgment debtor applied for the refusal of the enforcement (Article 44 (1), Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)).

 

Interest

15. Is the judgment creditor entitled to interest? If so, on what basis is it calculated?

Domestic judgments

The judgment creditor can demand interest on the judgment sum by means of enforcement. The enforceable judgment determines the amount of interest and the beginning of the interest.

 

Actual enforcement

16. What is the enforcement procedure when a declaration of enforceability is granted?

Domestic judgments

Domestic legally binding or provisionally enforceable judgments will be enforced, if the judgment creditor presents the enforceable copy of the judgment as well as its service to the judgment debtor. There is no registration of the judgment.

Foreign judgments

The enforcement judgment issued for judgments of third countries is enforceable in the same way as a domestic judgment.

A judgment given in an EU member state which is enforceable in that member state will be enforceable in other member states without any declaration of enforceability being required (Article 39, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)). Therefore, an enforcement clause is not needed (section 1112, Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

The party seeking the enforcement of a judgment given in another EU member state is not required to have a postal address in the member state addressed; nor is that party required to have an authorised representative in the member state addressed (Article 41(3), Brussels Regulation). The applicant (judgment creditor) must provide the competent enforcement authority with a copy of the judgment of that member state and a certificate certifying that the judgment is enforceable (Article 42(1), Brussels Regulation). Such a certificate, according to Annex I or Annex II of the Brussels Regulation, must be issued by the courts or public notaries which are competent in regard to the decision of an enforceable copy of the legal title (Article 53 Brussels Regulation; section 1110, ZPO). It must be issued without a hearing of the judgment debtor. The judgment debtor must also be notified ex officio with a copy of the certificate (section 1111(1), sentence 1 and 3 ZPO).

Where the judgment debtor is domiciled in a member state other than the member state of origin, he can request a translation of the judgment in order to contest the enforcement if the judgment is not written in, or accompanied by, a translation into either a language which he understands or the official language of the member state in which he is domiciled (Article 43(2), Brussels Regulation).

The judgment debtor, who must be served with the certificate prior to the first enforcement measure (Article 43(1), Brussels Regulation), can submit the application for refusal of enforcement to the court which the member state concerned has communicated to the Commission (Article 47(1), Brussels Regulation). The court will decide on the application for refusal of enforcement without delay (Article 48, Brussels Regulation). The court can, prior to the decision, issue a provisional measure, especially suspend the enforcement against provision of security, or without a provision of security, or it can make enforcement conditional on the provision of security (sections 1111(2), 732(2) ZPO; Article 44(1) Brussels Regulation).

The court to which an application for refusal of enforcement is submitted can suspend the proceedings if an ordinary appeal has been lodged against the judgment in the member state of origin, or if the time for the appeal has not yet expired. In the latter case, the court can specify the time within which such an appeal is to be lodged (Article 51(1), Brussels Regulation).

An immediate appeal can be filed against the decision on the application for refusal of enforcement by each party within one month, starting with the service of the decision. Another appeal (Rechtsbeschwerde) can be filed against the decision of the court of appeals under certain circumstances.

 
17. Can defendants oppose the enforcement procedure, and if so, on what grounds/defences?
 

Enforcing foreign judgments

Jurisdiction

18. Is the enforcing court entitled to consider the grounds on which the foreign court assumed jurisdiction (and if so, on what jurisdictional grounds can enforcement be refused)?

Under no circumstances can a judgment given in an EU member state be reviewed as to its substance in the member state addressed (Article 52, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)).

 
19. If the foreign court assumed jurisdiction on the basis of an exorbitant ground of jurisdiction, can the enforcing court review the judgment on that ground?

On the application of the judgment debtor, the enforcement of a judgment of a court of an EU member state will be refused in the country of enforcement, if one of the exclusive competences of the court of the country of origin has been violated by the court of the country of origin (see Question 9, Foreign judgments).

If the judgment of the court of an EU member state is being enforced, the judgment debtor can object to the claim directly by filing legal actions at the court of his domicile, if the reasons to his objection arose after the completion of the proceedings (sections 1117(1) and 1086(1), Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

 

Enforcement proceedings

20. Is the enforcement of a foreign judgment subject to formal proceedings or simplified procedures?

The judgment of the court of a third country, not the official document, must be issued in a legal dispute at the court at which the judgment debtor is domiciled. Alternatively, it can be issued at the court of the forum rei sitae (that is, where the matter is situated).

The judgment of the court or the official document of an EU member state, respectively, will be enforced if the certificate is being presented by the applicant (judgment creditor) (see Question 16). The certificate must be issued by the court, according to Annex I to Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation), or the public notary according to Annex II to the Brussels Regulation, who are competent in regard to the issuing of an enforceable copy of the legal title (section 1110, Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

A renewed domestic legal action is not necessary for legal relief if the domestically enforceable foreign judgment of the court of an EU member state has been served.

Foreign arbitral awards, whose venue is in a member state of the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (New York Convention) must be recognised as domestically effective and admitted for enforcement according to the domestic procedural laws regarding the enforcement of arbitral awards. This means that the arbitral award or its certified copy must be attached to the application for declaration of enforceability of the arbitral award to the higher regional court. The arbitral award or its certified copy must be presented as a certified translation into German.

 
21. Are applicants required to institute a new action on the judgment in the form of main proceedings instead of making an application for enforcement based on the judgment?

The plaintiff can file a renewed legal action at the domestic court which does not oppose the lis pendens of the filing of an enforcement action (section 722 (1), Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

 
22. What is the general outline of enforcement proceedings?

Appointing counsel

The parties must be represented by legal counsel for the legal dispute regarding the issuing of an enforcement judgment at the regional court (Landgericht).

The application for the refusal of enforcement of the judgment of an EU member state court can be filed in writing or recorded at the court registry by the judgment debtor (section 1115(3), Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)). The appeal against the decision of the regional court can be recorded at the court registry (sections 1115(5) sentence 1, 569(3), ZPO).

The representation by legal counsel is not required for proceedings regarding the admission of a foreign arbitral award for enforcement at the higher regional court (Oberlandesgericht) if a hearing has not been ordered.

In a legal dispute regarding the issuing of an enforcement judgment, the plaintiff who is not domiciled in an EU member state regularly must provide a security deposit at the request of the defendant, as long as bilateral agreements do not exempt him. This does not apply if he has sufficient domestic funds in order to cover legal costs.

Security for costs

No security, bond or deposit, however described, is required of a party who in one member state of the European Union applies for the enforcement of a judgment given in another member state on the grounds that he is a foreign national or that he is not domiciled or resident in the member state addressed (Article 56, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)).

Jurisdiction and venue

The domicile of the judgment debtor, his seat and the location of his assets determine the local jurisdiction of the district court (Amtsgericht). The competence of the court is determined by the value at stake up to the amount of EUR5,000.

The foreign arbitral award is declared enforceable by the higher regional court of the district of the defendant's seat or his habitual residence or the location of his assets. Alternatively, if there is no German arbitration venue, the Higher Regional Court of Berlin (Kammergericht Berlin) is competent (section 1062(2), ZPO).

Adversarial or without notice (ex parte)

The enforcement judgment (section 722(1), ZPO) will be issued after the hearing of the defendant. The certificate which confirms the enforceability of the judgment of the court of an EU member state will be issued without a hearing of the judgment debtor. A copy of the certificate must be served to the judgment debtor ex officio (section 1111(1), sentence 1 and 3, ZPO).

Timing

The duration of the proceedings regarding the application for refusal of enforcement of the judgment before the regional court (Landgericht) can be eight months or longer. The duration of the proceedings mainly depends on the procedural circumstances, for example, the possibility of either an order of security deposit or a suspension of the proceedings, depending on the objections of the judgment debtor and the admissibility of an appeal.

Fees

The legal costs for the proceedings of first instance are EUR240, particularly for proceedings applying for:

  • A declaration of enforceability of foreign legal titles.

  • A declaration that the foreign decision has to be recognised.

  • The issuing of the enforcement clause regarding foreign legal titles.

  • Suspension or alteration of decisions in the abovementioned proceedings.

  • Claims for the issuing of an enforcement judgment.

The costs for appeals for these proceedings are EUR360 (no. 1510, 1520, Annex 1, Schedule of values of section 3(2), Code of Court Costs (Gerichtskostengesetz) (GKG)).

This fee is reduced to EUR90 in proceedings in the first instance where the entire proceedings are terminated due to the withdrawal of the claim or an action prior to the end of the oral proceedings or, if there are no oral proceedings, prior to the end of the day on which the decision is being transmitted to the court registry (no. 1511, Annex 1, Schedule of values of section 3(2), GKG).

Fee no. 1520 is reduced to EUR90 in proceedings in the second instance where the entire proceedings are terminated due to the withdrawal of the appeal, the claim or the action prior to the receipt of the written pleading regarding the reasons of the appeal by the court (no. 1521, Annex 1, Schedule of values of section 3(2), GKG). The fee is reduced to EUR180 when the entire proceedings are terminated due to the withdrawal of the appeal, the claim or the action prior to the end of the oral proceedings or, if there are no oral proceedings, prior to the end of the day on which the decision is being transmitted to the registry if the requirements of no. 1521 are not fulfilled (no. 1522, Annex 1, Schedule of values of section 3(2), GKG).

The legal costs for the proceedings regarding the issuing of a certificate according to section 1110 of the ZPO are EUR20 (no. 1513, Annex 1 Schedule of values of section 3 (2), GKG).

Appeals

The decision on the application for refusal of enforcement can be appealed against by either party within a period of one month as from the service of the decision (section 1115(5), ZPO). The appeal is to be lodged with the court which the member state concerned has communicated to the Commission (Article 49(2), Brussels Regulation). The information must be made publicly available by the European Judicial Network (Article 75, Brussels Regulation).

The appeal against the decision of the court must be lodged within a period of two weeks as from the service of the decision on the appeal (section 569(1), ZPO).

The appeal on points of law (Rechtsbeschwerde) is to be filed within a statutory period of one month following service of the order by submitting a notice on appeal under a complaint with the court hearing the complaint on points of law (sections 1115(5), sentence 1 and 575 (1) sentence 1, ZPO). The appeal on points of law is a possible remedy, if the provisions explicitly provide for it or if the court of appeals permitted it. The appeal on points of law can only be based on the fact that the decision is based on a violation of federal law. Another ground is a possible violation of a provision whose territorial scope extends beyond the judicial district of a higher regional court (section 576(1), ZPO).

 
23. Can the enforcing court review the foreign judgment as to its substance if all formalities were complied with and if the judgment meets all requirements?

Under no circumstances can the foreign judgment be reviewed as to its legality or its substance in the enforcement proceedings (Article 52 Brussels I, section 723 (1), Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

 

Formalities

24. What are the documentary requirements for enforcement?

Documentary requirements

Subject to bilateral agreements, an enforceable copy of the judgment of a third country and the certificate regarding its legal effect must be added to the application for an enforcement judgment (section 722(1), Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)). When representation by a lawyer is mandatory, the power of attorney of the authorised attorney must be attached as well.

Authentication

For the purposes of enforcement of a judgment given in another member state, the applicant can provide the competent enforcement authority with the copy of the judgment as well as with the certificate using the form set out in Annex I of Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation), issued by the court of origin (Articles 42(1) and 53, Brussels Regulation).

 
25. Is it required to translate the judgments into the language of the state where enforcement is requested?

Translations

The competent enforcement authority can require the applicant to provide a translation of the judgment if it is unable to proceed without such a translation (Article 42(3) and (4), Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)). On the request of the court, the foreign judgment must be translated into the court's language of German by an authorised translator.

Other languages

The court can request a translation of the foreign judgment into the court's language, German (Article 41(1), Brussels Regulation, section 184, sentence 1, Court Constitution Act (GVG)). Other languages besides the court's language, German, are not necessarily accepted in the proceedings (section 1113, Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)).

Certification

The translation must be into the official language of the member state concerned and it must be carried out by a person qualified to do translations in one of the member states (Article 57 (1) and (3), Brussels Regulation, section 1113, ZPO).

 
26. What is the format of the application for a declaration of enforceability?

The enforcement judgment (section 722(1), Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO)) requires the bringing of an action. Additionally, the decisions of the courts require an application of the judgment creditor or the judgment debtor, respectively.

 
27. What information must be included in the application regarding the judgment, the claim as awarded in the judgment, the facts and legal grounds of the case, and that the judgment is no longer appealable?

Judgment

A judgment given in a member state which is enforceable in that member state will be enforceable in the other member states without any declaration of enforceability being required (Article 39, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation)). The applicant must provide a copy of the judgment which satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity and the certificate certifying that the judgment is enforceable with his enforcement application (Article 42(1), Brussels Regulation).

Only the application for the declaration of enforceability of the foreign judgment of a third country (section 722(1), Code of Civil Procedure ( ZPO)) must contain the declaration of legal effect of the foreign judgment.

 
28. Is it required to convert the value of the judgment into the local currency?

It is not required to convert the value of the judgment into the local currency in Germany.

 

Proposals for reform

29. Are any changes to the law currently under consideration or being proposed?

There are no changes to the law under consideration or being proposed at this point of time.

 

Online resources

Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection

W www.gesetze-im-internet.de

Description. The website is maintained by German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. An English translation of the German Civil Procedure Code is available there, but is intended solely as a convenience to the non-German-reading public (www.gesetze-im-internet.de/Teilliste_translations.html).



Contributor profile

Reza Ranjbar, Partner

Buse Heberer Fromm

T +49 40 41999-0
F +49 40 41999-329
E reza.ranjbar@buse.de
W www.buse.de

Professional qualifications. Germany, Rechtsanwalt; England and Wales, Solicitor

Areas of practice. Dispute resolution and banking.


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