Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blame Your Attorney

The German Supreme Court today has published two decisions in which the appellants were charged with a fee for suing. Yes, for suing. The parties not only lost before the court but their attorneys were charged a fee of 500 Euros for their appeals because, as the court said in a harsh tone, their briefs were completely unsubstantiated and had no chance of succeeding watsoever. In this the court sees an abuse of the German Verfassungsbeschwerde, a remedy by which you can make an immediate appeal to the German Constitutional Court claiming a violation of your constitutional rights by the German government.

The fine was imposed onto the attorneys, of course, but the thing remains quite something. Is it a violation of a right if I claim it without any substantial chance of succeeding or if simply my brief is so poorly written that Britney Spears could mark the errors? You could say that if you do that all you get is a, well, just a disappointing verdict. You simply lose. The court, however, uses the ‘misuse fee’ for restricting access to a court that is permanently overloaded with trials. But wouldn't it be for the legislature to decide who can appeal and cannot? The court, of course, uses a powerful weapon: Embarrassment. By the fee, the attorneys who wrote the brief that was so chanceless suffered from the worst hit you could take: professional shame.

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