Mon, Jun. 05, 2006

Forum Shopping in Germany

CK - Washington.   A criticism of the American legal system frequently heard in Germany is the seemingly limitless number of fora eager to hear cases against out-of-town defendants. The same nirvana for plaintiffs exists in Germany, under case law conceived by some courts, for Internet torts. If the offensive matter reaches the court's PC, jurisdiction exists. A recent decision severely and sensibly limits, however, this incentive to forum shopping.

As reported by the Rechtblog, the Hannover District Court on April 28, 2006, decided in the matter 9 O 44/06 that Internet torts require a nexus to the forum. A plaintiff who alleges harm based on a publication on the Internet may not sue the defendant just about anywhere in Germany or the world. Such forum shopping would violate the constitutional standard requiring a statutory forum, as expressed in Art. 101 of the Constitution.

The forum must be one that reflects the limits of the arbitrariness test, Willkürverbot, inherent in §32 of the Code of Civil Procedure, see also Rützel, Wegen & Wilske's excellent English-language introduction into German civil procedure in Commercial Dispute Resolution.

In the case at bar, the court required for it to affirm personal jurisdiction under §32 ZPO a local effect that results within the court's district because of the tortious Internet publication. Lacking such nexus, the court dismissed the complaint. Netlaw.de published the decision in German.


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