“The task of the Federal Court of Justice is primarily to ensure legal unity, to clarify fundamental legal questions and to develop the law.”

The Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) is the highest court in Germany for civil as well as criminal cases.

The Court
  • The Federal Court of Justice was established in 1950 and is located in Karlsruhe, Germany.
  • It is the highest court in civil and criminal matters and the court of last instance for the 638 district courts (Amtsgerichte), the 115 regional courts (Landgerichte) and the 24 higher regional courts (Oberlandesgerichte).
  • Next to the Federal Court of Justice there are four other branches of courts in Germany. Leading those are the Federal Administrative Court, the Federal Fiscal Court, the Federal Labour Court and the Federal Social Court.
  • Those supreme courts are independent of each other. To ensure uniformity of their case law a Joint Senate was established. The Joint Senate decides in cases where a supreme court wants to deviate from the decision of another supreme court.
  • Currently the president of the Federal Court of Justice is Bettina Limperg. She is the first woman in this position since the establishment of the court.

The Databases
  • The Federal Court of Justice has its own database. Here you can find all decisions of the court since 1 Januray 2000.
  • On the left side of the screen there is a search bar. Possible search criteria are the date, the file number, the ECLI and/or a keyword.
  • The file numbers consist of five elements: the name of the competent senate (Roman numerals for the civil senates, Arabic numerals for the criminal senates), the register number (an abbreviation for different kinds of proceedings), a serial number, a slash and the year of entry of the case. For example: II ZR 196/20 or 2 StR 399/21.
  • A table with the recent decisions of the Federal Court of Justice is also displayed on the database’s website.
  • A selection of the decisions of the court can also be found in the database "Rechtsprechung im Internet". Here, however, only decisions since 2010 are available.

Available Formats
  • The decisions are available in PDF-format. To read and print the decisions, a software to open PDF documents is needed.
  • The documents are only available in German.

Sources: Federal Court of Justice

Information status as of 30.03.2022

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