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Covid-19 impact on civil and insolvency matters

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European Judicial Network (in civil and commercial matters)
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1 Covid-19 impact on civil proceedings

1.1 Time limits in civil proceedings

To date, no measures have been adopted on civil-law time limits; the only provisions relate to prolonged interruptions to criminal proceedings. German law on civil procedure contains flexible provisions on the extension of time limits, stay of proceedings and restitutio in integrum, which help in the case of litigation during the COVID-19 crisis.

Further information on legislative measures can be found on the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection’s website

1.2 Judicial organization and Judiciary

Statutory provisions for civil proceedings already provide the courts with a broad scope to react flexibly to the current exceptional situation. It is for the relevant courts and judges to decide what measures to take on a case-by-case basis, e.g. written procedure, dispensing with the taking of evidence, or taking evidence via videoconference. Judicial independence is maintained.

1.3 EU Judicial Cooperation

Cooperation in family matters (Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003):

The central authority is fully operational in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003. Applications can be submitted in paper form.

Cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations (Regulation (EC) No 4/2009):

The central authority is fully operational in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 4/2009. Applications can be submitted in paper form.

The taking of evidence (Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001) and the service of documents (Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007):

There are no restrictions on the operation of the judiciary. Requests for service and taking of evidence are executed.

2 Insolvency related measures adopted or planned for adoption in member states after the outbreak of the pandemic

2.1 Substantive insolvency measures and related contracts affecting measure

2.1.1 Insolvency suspension Suspension of duty to file for insolvency (debtors)

The suspension of the duty to file for insolvency in the case of companies, partnerships in which no partners have unlimited liability, and associations and foundations was lifted on 1 May 2021. However, certain legal consequences of the suspension still apply, in particular the extended protection against appeals under Section 2(1) Nos 2 to 5 of the current version of the COVID-19 Insolvency Suspension Act (COVID-19-Insolvenzaussetzungsgesetz – COVInsAG). Protection of debtors about insolvency filing from creditors

The limitation of a creditor’s right to file for insolvency applied only until 28 June 2020. Since 29 June 2020, the right to file a creditor’s application has been fully reinstated if the creditor has a legal interest in opening insolvency proceedings and demonstrates that their claim and the reason for opening the proceedings are credible.

2.1.2 Claim enforcement suspension and contract termination suspension General / specific moratoria on claims enforcement / certain types of claims enforcement Suspension of contract termination (general / specific contracts)

2.2 Civil, including insolvency courts suspension and procedural suspensions

To date, there are no measures on time limits in civil proceedings. There is no need for specific measures because the legal situation in Germany allows judges to respond appropriately to the effects of COVID-19 on ongoing court proceedings.

2.3 Other insolvency measures (those relating to avoidance actions, reorganization plans, informal agreements, and others if appropriate)

For the duration of the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency, the liability risks for managers, creditors and contractual partners of insolvent companies were mitigated in order to promote the provision of additional capital and the continuation of business relations; see Section 2 COVInsAG. Individual facilities continue to apply, such as the clarification that the repayment of new loans granted during the suspension period will continue to be considered non-detrimental to creditors until 30 September 2023 (Section 2(1) No 2 COVInsAG). Payments on claims which were deferred until 28 February 2021 were also deemed until 31 March 2022 to be non-detrimental to creditors, unless insolvency proceedings had been opened before 18 February 2021 (Section 2(1) No 5 COVInsAG). Section 4 COVInsAG shortened the forecast period for the over-indebtedness test until 31 December 2021 and various forms of access facilitation applied during the same period to ‘self-administrative’ and ‘shield’ procedures (cf. Sections 5 and 6 COVInsAG).

2.4 Related non-insolvency measures (payment deferrals, bank loans, social security, health insurance, business subsidies)

Consumers’ credit obligations in relation to consumer loans were – under certain conditions – deferred for three months effective from 1 April 2020; this rule expired on 30 June 2020.

Deadlines under company law for holding general meetings were extended; the right of shareholders or their proxies to attend in person can temporarily be suspended by the Management Board (stock corporations).

Consumers and microenterprises unable to make payments as a consequence of the crisis were granted the right to refuse to perform ‘essential contracts for the performance of a continuing obligation’ (including but not limited to the supply of gas, water, power and telecommunications services), provided such contracts were concluded prior to 8 March 2020. This rule expired on 30 June 2020.

Last update: 12/07/2023

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