The Justices of the Constitutional Court visit the German Federal Court of Justice
On Monday, 2 July, the Justices of the Constitutional Court visited the German Federal Court of Justice, where they met two Judges of this Court – Rüdiger Pamp and Gabrielle Cirener. The guests were informed about the jurisdiction of the German Federal Court of Justice and the proceedings before it, then a discussion on a number of issues linked to organising the Court’s work followed.
The first issue that was discussed was how to increase the effectiveness of the legal proceedings. The German Judges admitted that one of the measures of increasing the effectiveness was the filtering of cases – the German Federal Court of Justices reviews only those cases that are of principle importance, the examination of which is needed to ensure the unity of the legal system or for the development of law. The specialisation of Judges was underscored, as well as the possibility to make pilot judgements. The German Judges’ had a rather critical opinion of the proposal that the judges of lower instance courts could request from the Court of Justice a preliminary ruling.
The next issue on the agenda was the substantiation of the Court’s decision to refuse initiating a case. At the German Federal Court of Justice such decisions are adopted by a panel of Judges, and usually no reasoning is provided. However, the field of law, to which the case under review pertains, is significant. For example, in criminal proceedings the substantiation may be derived from the prosecutor’s opinion on the submitted complaint – if initiation of a case is refused, then it can be assumed that the panel of Judges upholds the arguments provided in the opinion.
The Justices of the Constitutional Court asked whether the German Federal Court of Justice often submitted an application to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and how often in such instances initiation of a case was refused because the application lacked sufficient legal substantiation. The German Judges acknowledged that such applications were very rare.
Finally, the principle of revision, which is typical of the German Federal Court of Justice, was discussed. The Justices of the Constitutional Court wanted to know, how often, pursuant to this principle, the Court of Justice did not return the case back to the lower instance court but decided on the matter itself. It was concluded that in civil procedure this possibility was used quite frequently, whereas in criminal procedure – only as an exception.
At the end of the visit, the Justices of the Constitutional Court visited the library of the German Federal Court of Justice, which is the largest court library in Germany.