The limit in dispute at the German local courts is to rise from the current 5,000 to 8,000 euros in the future. This is provided for in a draft bill presented by the Federal Ministry of Justice a few weeks ago, which is also based on the initiative of Baden-Württemberg. State Justice Minister Marion Gentges (CDU) told the German Press Agency in Stuttgart that they wanted a citizen-oriented and strong judiciary with short distances, especially in the area. “That’s why we have worked hard to make better use of the potential of the district courts. We have now taken a decisive step forward.” Last year, the Federal Minister of Justice was presented with a concrete overall concept for restructuring the responsibilities between local and regional courts.

Strengthening the local courts

In addition, disputes arising from neighboring law should be referred to the local courts – regardless of the amount in dispute. The state Ministry of Justice said that proximity often plays a special role in disputes between neighbors. On the other hand, disputes in the area of ​​procurement matters, medical treatments and publication disputes should be assigned to the regional courts regardless of the value of the dispute in order to achieve further specialization.

The current value in dispute of 5,000 euros for the district courts dates back to 1993 and has not been adjusted for inflation since then. According to the Ministry of Justice in Stuttgart, the inflation rate for the period from the beginning of 1993 to the end of July 2022 is more than 64 percent. The significant devaluation of money over the past 30 years has – among other factors – led to a disproportionately large decline in the volume of business in the local courts. The number of civil cases received has been declining for many years. This decline is particularly pronounced in the district courts. In the period from 1993 to 2020, the number of first-instance civil cases received in local courts nationwide fell by around 41 percent, as the state Ministry of Justice also announced.

The regional association of the German Association of Judges welcomed the planned increase in the amount in dispute. However, state chief Wulf Schindler emphasized: “With the expected increase in the number of cases, the courts must also be assigned the appropriate staff. There must be no financial bleeding.” There should be no further reductions in staff, but staff must be increased sufficiently in line with the increase in the number of cases.

More than 100 district courts in the southwest

According to the Ministry of Justice, there are 108 district courts in Baden-Württemberg. There are fewer than 15 employees at 34 local courts. These smaller district courts are mainly located in rural areas. In this respect, 29 district courts cover a district court district with an area of ​​less than 200 square kilometers, of which 19 district courts are in cities with fewer than 40,000 inhabitants. “The smaller district courts in particular bring with them challenges in terms of personnel but also in organizational terms.” The smallest district court in the country is in St. Blasien in the Black Forest and the largest is in Stuttgart.

The green-black state government had committed to this structure in the coalition agreement. The goal must remain a citizen-oriented and service-oriented justice system with short distances.

Ministry of Justice on District Courts Notice from the Federal Ministry of Justice