Danke les

Monday, March 26, 2007

Judicial branch

Germany has an independent judicial branch. Since the independence of the judiciary is historically older than democracy in Germany, the organization of courts is traditionally strong, and almost all state actions are subject to judicial review. Besides a so-called "ordinary" judicial branch that handles civil and criminal cases, which is in turn comprised of four levels of courts up to the Bundesgerichtshof in a fairly complex appeals system, there are separate branches for administrative, tax, labour, and social security issues, each with their own hierarchies. Courts are generally in the hands of the states, except for the highest courts of each branch, which are federal, respectively, to maintain a certain degree of unity in jurisdiction.

In addition, Germany has a powerful Constitutional Court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht. This is somewhat unique since the Grundgesetz stipulates in principle that every person may file a complaint to that court when his or her constitutional rights, especially the human rights, have been violated by the state. Such actions can include laws passed by the legislative branch, court decisions, or acts of the administration. While in practice, only a small percentage of these constitutional complaints (Verfassungsbeschwerden) are successful, the Constitutional Court is known to frequently antagonise both the executive and the legislative branches with far-reaching decisions. This has even gone so far as judges openly stating that they are indifferent to the reactions of the government, the Bundestag, public opinion or any financial consequences arising from a decision with the only relevant point being the constitution. It should also be mentioned that the Bundesverfassungsgericht has very high approval rates throughout the general population. The Constitutional Court also handles several other procedures such as disputes between state institutions over their constitutional powers.