Mon, Dec. 06, 2004

Advance to Jail

CK - Washington.   A criminal court convicted an Emmerich attorney who had requested and accepted advance payments from his clients without stating in the engagement letters that the payments were to constitute an advance. A prosecutor argued that the acceptance of funds for services not yet provided could constitute fraud. The court considered the lack of the term advance a flaw that caused clients to be deceived. The attorney was sentenced to a penalty of 22 days, each to be paid at the ratio of his average daily income, or served in jail. The lawyer noted an appeal.

The name of the lawyer remains unpublished as is customary in Germany. While there is no rule that prohibits the publication of names of parties in litigation, the custom developed on the basis of a majority of published views on the subject matter. For a different view, see Kerr, Die Namensnennung bei der Publikation gerichtlicher Entscheidungen, JurPC Web-Dok. 73/2004, January 19, 2004.



Collecting Debt: Tight Limits

CK - Washington.   New rules on the terms of the statute of limitations cut short the terms for collecting on old debts. For instance, the 30-year term governing the expiration of claims under old law--if those debts existed at the end of 2001--expire at the end of 2004. That is true even if the old law would have allowed the claim to be enforced until 2031.

The federal justice department in Berlin urges creditors in a circular of December 6, 2004 to examine any claims or contracts, such as loan agreements, for the need to file a collection complaint before the end of 2004 in order to preserve their rights. Sending a reminder to a debtor is usually insufficient to toll the statute.


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